Sunday, September 27, 2009

I perceive, therefore . . .

I stood outside on our porch one morning, just the other day. I often come out early, as the sun is rising, just to look. As I stood there, I began thinking; someday this will all be gone. I will no longer stand here looking out at the sky and the trees, and the houses with their residents just beginning to awaken. It will all be gone.
Then I corrected myself.
No, one day, it will remain, and only the image in my brain will be gone. But if there is no image in my brain, does it actually exist, this thing I now see? It’s the old, “if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to hear it, does the tree actually fall? Perhaps, if I am no longer here, then nothing exists.
So then, what are we all doing here? Are we all simply sitting around, waiting for Godot?
I think of the expression about people who, “are simply taking up space.” That is, they aren’t doing anything useful, but what is useful anyway? Is useful getting up in the morning, strapping on a vest filled with dynamite, driving to some crowded marketplace, and then detonating the vest?
Is useful deciding to feed a hungry child?
Is useful, then, a relative term, meaning, in the final analysis, exactly nothing?
In a million years, would being useful matter?
We fuss about such terminally stupid things, like whether two people of the same gender should be allowed to marry, while ignoring the fact that half of the “correctly married” will eventually divorce one another, some after great stress, and even violence. But of what consequence are such things anyway? Will the earth cease to rotate if we do one thing and not another?
Did it matter that Adolph Hitler decided to kill six million people simply because they were Jews, or Gypsies, or some other condition he deemed un-Germanic?
Well, it turns out that it did matter, but only briefly, and only to the people he killed, and the people who loved the people he killed. In a million years, Hitler will be as though he never existed. He’s the tree that fell in the forest while no one was around to see it or hear it fall. And the people he killed will also be as though they never existed.
What matters then is the moment . . . now. And the only moment that matters is that which I perceive. And if I act, always act, so as to create beauty, then for those brief moments that I exist, I may fulfill the only possible purpose for which I exist. And if I understand that beauty exists in many forms—a work of art surely, but also the smile of a child, the caress of a loved one, the rising of the sun, or its setting, the low whirring of a hummingbird’s wings as it caresses your path. These matter, even if only for the briefest moments. For those moments, I truly exist.. .
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