Thursday, March 6, 2008

Away From Understanding.

As one walks down the street today one notices all sorts of construction taking place. A home being built where there was previously an empty lot, a wall being torn down only to be built up again, several small sections of the street being mended, and two separate businesses improving upon their exterior facades. And yet no matter how urban the setting, how asphalt-based the landscape, the natural world is all around, crowding in. Grass must be cut, weeds pulled, trees trimmed, debris picked up, all in order to keep the natural world at bay. We humans have carved out a space and called it our own only to become locked in a near constant battle with natural elements. On the one hand, we must constantly keep the natural world at bay and on the other, we must ceaselessly maintain the space we've created from being worn down and destroyed. Walking down these few streets towards the coast one could see the joy of spring all around. The blossoming trees, budding flowers, chirping birds, and freshly watered grasses were all aglow in the generous sunlight. The air smelled fresh and the breeze was comfortably cool.
Can the world be improved upon? Not merely physically, through science or technology, but also psychologically, as in our relationship with one another? And if it could, who would improve upon it? You? Me? A group of concerned citizens or some organization somewhere? How does one know our world needs improving upon? Does one use their own sense of right and wrong with each bringing their own moral measuring stick to the table? Can one honestly say it is about the world, and its needed improvement, at all? Or maybe just one's own particular need to improve upon oneself? Maybe one is not happy with what they are conscious of within themselves? How is it that we measure ourselves? Isn't it, through becoming aware of the vast reservoir of memory, with its accumulated past, we attempt to change its course through creating an image of where we want to be in the future, and keeping track of our progress? And so part of me becoming better may, in fact, be seen as me improving upon the world. So the world's improvement is a part of my own desire to become a better 'me'. It may, in fact, be nothing but a selfish, self-centered activity, for my motive is improving my own image, not changing the world.
Again, how do I know the world needs changing or that it can even be fundamentally changed at all? Because I have an image of a better world in my head? Isn't it a rather fascist idea to presume one can improve upon another or tell another how to be? I mean, have you ever acted upon an image in your mind? That is, manifested, that which you previously only thought about, into the realm of an actual, living relationship? Does it ever stay the same as you imagined or even as you intended? How long does it stay as you intended before it too, changes? Haven't you lost all control once that which you merely imagined is being shared in the actual world of human relationship? Can one become so aware of the disharmony between an image of the mind and the movement of life that image-making comes to an end? Without the image there is nothing to improve upon, there's only the scared movement of life itself. For one has discovered that fixing the world and fixing oneself are one in the same movement. A movement away from understanding.
As one walked past a group of men knocking down a concrete wall, one couldn't help but wonder what each of them were aware of in that moment. Did they notice the breeze blowing the scent of jasmine their way? Did they notice the birds flying overhead, looking for food and warding each other off? Did they notice how the sunshine set everything green and natural aflame with light? Or were they too consumed with the task at hand and the lives they lead to stop and see the beauty of the Earth all around them?