Monday, March 14, 2011

Above the Clouds

.. A Silver Lining

Leaving anywhere one has lived for a sustained period of time is always emotionally difficult and complicated. Saying goodbye to people we have grown to love, respect and trust, even for a short while, is never easy. Friends wonder if they are being left behind and question the reasons, motivations and purpose of any journey. But what the seasoned traveller knows in his or her heart is that a new adventure is waiting, and one day, maybe soon, a return is immanent.

See yonder little cloud, that, borne aloft So tenderly by the wind, floats fast away Over the snowy peaks! ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As I take to the sky, free from the restraints others place on themselves, I know I shall not be forgotten, for those who stay in touch are the dearest of friends. We communicate because we recognise a kindred soul, touch each other to the marrow, and can see in the eye of the other that clear window through the clouds of every day living to the heart of each intention. We are like-minded and drift far and high, not aimlessly, but definitively, with the purpose of arriving at our individual destination, regardless of how long it takes to get there. I am on the way, and destiny draws me ever onward towards the edge of the map.

My land is bare of chattering folk; the clouds are low along the ridges, and sweet's the air with curly smoke from all my burning bridges. ~ Dorothy Parker

Across the horizon a light shines, it attracts me, and I am fulfilled by it. The journey is the point I seek, and the reason is the adventure. What is life if it brings nothing new, nothing that challenges and nothing that reveals an original or unique idea? That combination of experience, wisdom, creativity and ingenuity drives us on, and we as we live with our heads in the clouds of romantic attachment, our feet remain firmly rooted in the traditions of verifiable theory and empirical investigation. What greater knowledge can there be than that which proves the reality of love; a truth that never dies, inspiring each successive generation in different yet equal ways, simply can’t be wrong.

I owned the world that hour as I rode over it; free of the earth, free of the mountains, free of the clouds, but how inseparably I was bound to them. ~ Charles Lindbergh

There are many kinds of love. Love of a brother or sister, a parent, a child, a friend or compatriot, the person who shares our bed, the one we gave our heart to. There is the love of art or argument, the love of truth or God, the love we feel when under the influence of its power we recognise the transcendent amongst the hazy billowing clouds.

Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in shape of a camel? By th' mass and 'tis, like a camel indeed. Methinks it is like a weasel. It is backed like a weasel. Or like a whale. Very like a whale. ~ William Shakespeare

But what of the impact of this dreaming – my environmental credit, the damage to our world these mighty craft perpetuate as they jet around the globe. I try to do my bit, the usual vegetarian habits, the walking when driving would be easier, the recycling and turning off the lights, but is any of that enough to offset my impact on our fragile planet? I don’t really think so.

Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm,
But, to add colour to my sunset sky. ~ Rabindranath Tagore

As witnessed over the past week and in recent years, the earth is in a terrible state of chaos, perhaps an irreversible decline due to the natural course of change and human interference in the balance of life. We have created a situation where oil is constantly being sucked out of the bowels of the earth and the burnt carbon residues spewed into the atmosphere. The earth has responded by shifting and realigning the plates that float on that delicate surface, and we feel the shaking beneath our feet. We simply can’t maintain this cycle. Yet, we will until the end of our days, for what can the average person do to reverse this state of affairs?

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time. ~ John Lubbock

In Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico we have seen what happens to the waters when oil is spilled in massive quantities, in Haiti, New Zealand and Japan what happens when the earth quakes and in Banda Aceh, Japan and other places the results of tsunamis are evident, and what still of New Orleans? What is causing these tremendously violent events? Is it simply nature’s age-old way, or is it something we have caused? I think there is a combination of factors at play here, but we, in the few thousand years of our meaningful existence have wreaked havoc on the earth with devastating results.

A pessimist only sees the dark side of the clouds, and mopes; a philosopher sees both sides and shrugs; an optimist doesn't see the clouds at all: he's walking on them. ~ Leonard L. Levinson

There are no simple answers, and I am inclined to believe we are at a turning point in our short span of human history.

I read an article last week that suggested a way to solve global warming would be to set off a series of limited nuclear explosions. I gasped in shock and horror, yet I’m sure there are those in positions of power and influence who will seriously be considering this as an option or alternative solution to several problems.

For some it will make complete sense, a reasonable method to solve the environmental crisis, rid the world of a few enemies and reduce the burgeoning population. Whether we survive as a species in the face of all these threats to our security is a real question considering all the obstacles to regeneration of the planet – she doesn't need our help I’m sure, as she will continue without us.

Far clouds of feathery gold, Shaded with deepest purple, gleam like islands on a dark blue sea. ~ Percy Bysshe Shelley

I try to remain optimistic about our chances for finding a way through this serious situation and as many people live my life in expectation of a brighter and healthier future for my children, though all is clearly not well in the garden. I felt my first earthquake a few years ago and it woke me in the night. At first I thought it was the early twinge of new love in a dream, but it was another of the birth pangs of a restless world shrugging us off to begin again.

I have felt the earth moving twice since, and each time it is a bizarre sensation of losing stability; blizzards and forest fires are frightening, hurricanes and tornadoes terrifying, but to feel the earth move beneath our feet is truly disconcerting - imagine the still air of a full solar eclipse with an incessant rumble and imbalance in the forces of nature as our awareness of that which holds this reality together rapidly disappears. It isn't just a physical sensation, it's as though the mind is suddenly no longer fixed in place - an awesomely startling insecurity.

Perhaps I feel much the same as most others do when thinking about the dangers of the world today, for I recently posed this question to my students when discussing the ramifications of global environmental damage: do you feel hopeful for yourself or the world today? To a person they responded by saying they were hopeful for their own life and future, yet felt pessimistic about the future prospects of the world.

God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees,
and in the flowers and clouds and stars.
~ Martin Luther

The main concerns for these adults were the continuance of environmental damage (even that of so-called eco-tourism - yes I acknowledged my part of the responsibility), wars and the potential nuclear threat, and an economic situation that favoured the accumulation of wealth over all else.

I believe all sensible and thoughtful people recognise the same flaws in the system today. But where is the righteous leader to challenge the conglomerates that build weapons, that refuse to invest in environmentally sound methods of transport and who betray our future by lining their pockets with silver from the profits of industry without a thought for those who live in poverty?

It seems true that power corrupts and as long as the golf course is maintained those in the positions of trust will exploit the system to the continued benefit of the few. Naturally, these same people claim to love God and the world and their fellow man and ask us to give them four more years or rain bombs down upon our heads in response to any demand for change.

The myth of unlimited production brings war in its train as inevitably as clouds announce a storm. ~ Albert Camus

It is always easier to generalise about our need to give or receive love, to promise we love everyone, than fulfil its calling and love one as ourselves. To sacrifice ourselves for love is the ultimate demand, but submission to the whims of another is surrender not love; and to give up our own reality for the misplaced fantasy of another is to transgress against true love.

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. 
~ Edward Abbey

Over the past year I have visited many new places, and quite a few old places too, but still I hunger for the unattainable. I walked in fields with flowers I didn’t recognise, swam in seas that were warm as a summer day, ate fruit picked from the vine and shared many travels to see wondrous things with friends who asked sincerely for my companionship and attention, yet still there is one I reminisce about.

There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds. ~ G. K. Chesterton

Even when the one we love has moved on to another life or simply no longer wishes to follow that dream to the ends of the earth as once promised, the quest for peace in our hearts continues. That search for resolution and consummation of desire may remain forever, but eventually we accept that the love we have is not reciprocated by the one for whom we carry that torch. However, life goes on and we grow in strength through spirit, knowing we nurture the hope of tomorrow.

I would not fear nor wish my fate, but boldly say each night, tomorrow let my sun his beams display, or in clouds hide them; I have lived today. ~ Abraham Crowley

In tomorrow our dreams are true, and the discovery of new lands, new friends, new ways of living give encouragement to the thought that one day we might be able to move beyond the hurt of an unrequited love that burns the heart. I share this path with many, for I meet countless others who tell the same story, and we travel together. We are the wanderers and wonderers across this beautiful earth, sure of the strength of our passion and the ability to share that exploration and ambition with a soul mate; the fruit of our shared years blossoms in a hopeful future yet to be achieved.

I know that I shall meet my fate somewhere among the clouds above ..
~ William Butler Yeats

I, as those who share my fate, await the homecoming of that spirit and continue to fly beyond the stormy clouds of today in anticipation that wherever I might arrive those I meet on the way will help maintain the faith of love to convey the truth of freedom in my heart.

*     *     *