The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and the heart of the child. The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood. His intercourse with heaven and earth, becomes part of his daily food. In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows. Nature says – he is my creature, and maugre all his impertinent griefs, he shall be glad with me. Not the sun or the summer alone, but every hour and season yields its tribute of delight; for every hour and change corresponds to and authorizes a different state of the mind, from breathless noon to grimmest midnight. Nature is a setting that fits equally well a comic or a mourning piece. In good health, the air is a cordial of incredible virtue. Crossing a bare common, in snow puddles, at twilight, under a clouded sky, without having in my thoughts any occurrence of special good fortune, I have enjoyed a perfect exhilaration. Almost I fear to think how glad I am. In the woods too, a man casts off his years, as the snake slough, and a what period soever of life, is always a child. In the woods, is perpetual youth. Within these plantations of God, a decorum and sanctity reign, a perennial festival is dressed, and the guest sees not how he should tire of them in a thousand years. In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life – no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair. Standing on bare ground – my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space – all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing. I see all. The currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God. The name of the nearest friend sounds then foreign and accidental. To be brothers, to be acquaintances – master or servant, is then a trifle and a disturbance. I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty.
— from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Nature (1936)
Tag Archives: Truth
“The search for truth is in one way hard and in another way easy, for it is evident that no one can master it fully or miss it wholly. But each adds a little to our knowledge of nature, and from all the facts assembled there arises a certain grandeur.” — Aristotle
“Our soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts.” — Marcus Aurelius
I like reading the words of the wise. I think most of us can agree that life can be a bit confusing at times. At other times, ‘confusing’ doesn’t begin to describe it.
It is almost certainly true that life doesn’t come with a training manual or a guide book. We are simply born one day, and somewhere along the way we become self-aware and then we just sort of go about living, and trying not to die. Days and weeks and years drift along, and we do what we can to occupy, distract or amuse ourselves, only vaguely aware for the most part, that sooner or later the ride must come to an end.
If at some point on our journey down the river of life, we are to feel a bit tired or lost, stopping and asking for directions is not really an option. The river never stops, and even if it did, there is no map. Different people find ‘maps,’ of a sort, in different places, whether science, philosophy or religion, but the near-universal disagreement on which map is ‘true’ really doesn’t lend any specific map a great deal of of credibility.
Still we are fortunate. I imagine the experience of life must not be very different for a fish, or for a deer, or perhaps even for a bacteria. They are born, have hungers and fears, and do what they can to occupy, distract and amuse themselves while trying to avoid death for as long as is feasible. It would seem, though, that we have one up on them, in that the written languages of human beings provide us with something resembling context. We may be unable to get off the river, or to look at a map, but we can share our insights, and can share in the insights of those who have come and gone before us.
While only the revelations (or lack thereof) that come with death can really define for us the meaning of a “good” or “full” life, there certainly seem to be many human beings who have, on the surface at least, approached such ideals.
Perhaps they excelled in their fields, exploring the limits of their potential. Perhaps they broadened our understanding of life or the universe. Perhaps they left a world behind that was better off than they world they were born into. Perhaps they simply lived happily and at peace. Many of them wrote, in their youth, their prime and their age, and I believe that their words – their thoughts, ideas, insights and imaginings, are among the greatest of human treasures. It may amount to nothing more than the blind leading the blind, but many blind men and women have lived lives of misery and toil, while many have found achievement, happiness and serenity. Though it’s impossible to know what the point of all this living is, it certainly seems likely that experiencing joy, love and completion for as many of these few short hours of life is preferable to squandering them away in suffering and self-loathing.
Not unexpectedly, many of these so-called wise tend to agree on a lot of things, including an approach to living, and an attitude on life. To be continued …
Well, each beautiful thing I come across tells me to stop moving and shake this riddle off. Oh well.
And there was a time when all I wanted was my ice cream colder and a little cream soda. Oh well, oh well.
And a wooden box and an alley full of rocks was all I had to care about. Oh well, oh well, oh well.
Now my mind is filled with rubber tires and forest fires and whether I’m a liar and lots of other situations where I don’t know what to do at which time God screams to me “There’s nothing left for Me to tell you!”
“Nothing left for Me to tell you!”
Oh well, oh well, oh well, oh well.
Oh well, oh well, oh well, oh well.