09 Sep In Reverence of Existence
THE DAY HOLDS ON TO the darkness of night and slowly softens. Light pervades the darkness like a drop of white paint mixed in black, but the world becomes blue, not grey; the deep, patient blue of dawn.
I’ve been continuously writing about the morning as if in a new way, even though I see the morning similarly every day. I wake up and am again in awe of what arises.
The color of dawn — blue — why is it so moving?
I continue to wonder about what gives the world meaning, and return to the inspiring answer: everything.
Everything has meaning when we unpack what the moments, the items, the people, the memories, the places signify.
Every thing evokes something in us subconsciously, whether painful or beautiful, joyful or somber — yet these feelings often intertwine. The blue morning signifies distinct possibilities, as the hazy color makes me curious about what the day might bring. Sunlight, rain, or something I couldn’t have imagined?
The air is warm and dark and rich, enclosed by clouds which cover the sky. A divine pink light drifts through pockets in the clouds, which look like holes in a worn blanket. I make my way to the beach and can’t stop looking at the undulating clouds.
To live in reverence is to honor all of life — what steals our breath away, what shakes us, what seems trivial after a while. To live in reverence is to perceive not only the physical, but the essence, the source, which gives life to every thing, every person, every situation.
The spirit underneath it all forms the bonds between us.
On the shore, birds stick their long, strange beaks into the sand, seeking buried treasure. The ocean water rolls like glass. Grey and boundless like the sky.
The green hue of the waves differentiates the ocean from the sky, a color which becomes more noticeable as the waves rise. Their energy lifts and in the face of the wave, the deep green color which holds notes of brown sand becomes prominent against the grey horizon. The green is soft and nourishing, regenerative, becoming something new.
Dolphins glide by, some of the smartest creatures in the world. Like us, they long to play. Life is about more than survival. The dolphins recognize this. You can see their smiles. It’s about enjoyment. Their sleek fins bob and bend and submerge for a while to resurface through the crests. To my right, from my position in the water, the coastal train passes on the cliff.
It hangs over the shore.
The train excites me when it passes. Its colors — blue and green — seem artificial, like candy. The train is practically always moving, taking people from here to there, from here to I don’t know where. Somewhere up along the coast or into the country’s interior.
Even though the function of the train remains the same, it’s becoming something new, the setting of a unique experience for each individual who climbs aboard. The train appears changeless, but it, perhaps like all of life, is continually evolving. I observe the morning every day, and perhaps it changes slightly, from what I can tell.
But I’m not the same. I’ve changed and view the morning from a different set of eyes. Is life constantly becoming something new, or is life ever just pure being? The ancient Greek philosophers contemplated this age-old question. It set the entire foundation for the future of Western philosophy.
If we’re constantly becoming something new, how do we appreciate being and find solace in the now? Does all which exists in continual becoming — the sprouting and decaying trees, the rising and crashing waves, the birth and life and death of every individual — derive from some source of pure being?
The Pre-Socratic philosophers debated the source of all of life, the “origin” archê.
In his Theogony, the 8th-century BC philosopher Hesiod explains through poetry how the world came to be from chaos:
Tell me these things, Olympian Muses,
From the beginning, and tell which of them came first.
In the beginning there was only Chaos, the Abyss,
But then Gaia, the Earth, came into being,
Her broad bosom the ever-firm foundation of all,
And Tartaros, dim in the underground depths,
And Eros, loveliest of all the Immortals. (Theogony, 114–120)
To Hesiod, chaos, which in Greek means “abyss,” “gap,” or “emptiness,” couldn’t be comprehended, which is why he attempted to explain through poetry. Chaos is pure being.
To Thales of the 6th-century BC, the archê is water, from and into which all things derive and return. We change, the world changes, but water endures.
As I float in the green and moving water, I feel a rejuvenation of my spirit. The train moves, the dolphins pass, and I pass too. We pass each other and can hold on or let go. I think the dolphins have let go — they seem happy to just be. So am I, floating in reverence for existence.
The sea is no longer smooth as can be, but rippling and changing, becoming something new.
On the shore, I pass another human being who gives me the kindest, have a great morning. That has stuck with me. He didn’t need to put his whole being into the phrase; but I saw the way his face changed when he gave those simple words.
He strengthened in me a faith in people, replenishing the well we all drink from, we all contribute to, whose water we carry and may share. He’s encouraged me in my becoming, to be a more compassionate, open human being. We now know what the ancient Greeks perhaps didn’t, that the world didn’t originate from water. But what do we really know?
The change in all things is continual and incremental, like the morning. It doesn’t merely shift from dark to light; the darkness gradually lifts and the day takes on a different shade in every moment until we’re there, and everything is light.
Often, we simply want to step into the light without dealing with the darkness. We want to be without becoming. But there’s a profound beauty in the fleeting darkness — a joy to let the desires in our hearts come to us naturally and when they’re supposed to, as opposed to when we expect them.
We want to make change now, but the universe has other plans. The universe unfurls slowly and naturally, deriving from the source. When we ask for something, it’s already out there waiting for us. Yet, there’s a joy in the adventure of not knowing when it may arise.
There’s a courage in embracing the unknown, and being willing to stay open no matter how long it takes for the change, the desire to occur. There are laughs to be shared, deeply moving good mornings to be had, and opportunities to discover when we’re okay treading our path for a while without knowing where it may lead.
Who knows where we come from and where we may go; but we all come from the same source. The plants, the animals, every individual derives from the same archê.
We’re better equipped than we realize to journey happily and in gratitude, unaware of what lies ahead, confronting the unknown with a smile. I don’t know where the train is headed, but every time I see it I’m instilled with a sense of wonder. We’re always moving, adapting, growing; becoming. Maybe we do come from water — life-sustaining, nourishing, endlessly changing water.