Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Reverie Runs Through It

"Suzanne takes you down
To a place by the river...."

- Leonard Cohen

I have been lazy today, after the Big Ride.  Spent most of it down by the Dolores River behind my campsite, letting the sound of water carry my cares away.  A few fishermen passed through, but mostly they left me alone.

And yet I didn't feel alone.

Not like being watched, exactly, but rather in good company, granted the sort of benign neglect fishermen allow each other, each content to pursue their own folly in their own space.  Eerie to feel that sort of presence in the company of inanimate objects.  But not scary.   There was friendliness in the broad sunshine.  Familiarity in the rippling water.  Good humor floating on the breeze.  

I went down there with a book, but didn't get much reading done.  Just bearing witness seemed like plenty to do.  Something kept winking at me, at the very edge of vision.  Ah. Only light on the water.

Occasionally I moved my chair to stay in the shade.  Tough job, this, but somebody has to do it.

Off and on I dreamed of Suzanne Langer.  Ages ago, back in school, I ran across a book of hers, called "Philosophy in a New Key".  The part I remember now is this: Music is an analog of thought.

Music has rhythm and order and change, challenge and response.  It mimics our interior life. Music is mere sound taking the form of Mind.  When we hear it, we recognize the familiar shape of ourselves.  We see our shadow.  That's why it appeals to us.

But what of the music of nature?  All day long I kept returning here to sit by the river, listening to the whisper of wind in the trees, the mutter of water on stone.  A dance of order and rhythm and change, going on and on.

O, sometimes Nature can break us in two.  Bat us aside.  Even hold us to account.  But then, sometimes, we just get a bye.  On a day like today, we can occasionally, unaccountably, be allowed the illusion of thinking, even deep thinking, without the unpleasant rigor of thinking anything in particular.  Let alone coming to a conclusion.

Sitting by the river on a soft summer's day can be a bit like watching a campfire deep into the night.  Flicker and flow, shiver and glow, but where does it go?

It goes where we cannot follow.  Or maybe the other way around.

Ahhh.  A lazy and undeserved pleasure it is to be alive.  Like the gift of Grace without the worry of good works.  Adam in Eden must have felt this way.  And like Adam in Eden, I dabbled all day in the naming of things.  I had this sense there was something important for me to hear, or perhaps to say, and yet when darkness finally fell all I could manage to salvage were a few cliches.  I put them aside for later.

Cheap thrills.  Perhaps that's all it was, sitting there hour after hour, completely content to loll about in the loose grip and grace of something that seemed greater, more complicated, more complete, more benign than myself.

There it is again.  Dang.  Missed it.  Wait.  There.  Can you hear that?  The band is still playing.



Jan Forseth said...

Hey, Bob, you must be the author of "The Zen of Motorcycle Maintenance." ;) Sure do enjoy your philosophical musings.

Aeagles said...

Love this post.

Bob Giddings said...

Jan, I love your galleries. Wish I had your eye, but I'll settle for your photos.