Monday, August 25, 2014


What am I?

Pinch your shirt to make a fold of cloth. A wave is a pinch on the surface of the sea. Massanutten Mountain is a long ridge near my town, a pinch of the earth's surface.

There's no line on the ground that you can straddle with one foot on the mountain, and one foot off the mountain. Salient and solid, the mountain fades gradually out into the whole earth's surface. There's no separating a wave from the sea, yet we count the waves as if they were independent.

If visitors from some alien civilization came to this corner of the galaxy and asked it "What do you know of yourself?" they could do worse than ask us. We're each a part of this earth that is aware, that internalizes a model of the world around us. We know some of what goes on in ourselves, less of what goes on in our town, a tiny bit about the planets and the stars, yet what we know is amazingly effective. We're pinches of the whole, that mirror the whole in caricature in our minds.

And more, we can talk to each other.

So we have a duty to each other. Our duty is to tell each other what this experience is like, seen from where we stand. Each of us is closer to some things, and sees some things better, than the others. I owe it to you, to tell you what I know of this life. I should expect that you see things differently. That's what I need you to tell me about--the rest I already know.

photo credit: Rob Shenk via photopin cc