Thursday, August 21, 2008

to genus or not to genus

another late summer early morning. bill rode with me this morning, and we again rode in the dark, then in the not-s0-dark, then in a time of silhouettes and surreal quiet, and finally in the early light of morning where the sun still hovers behind the mountain yet our little section of the world is lit and all becomes clearly defined and radiantly visible.
it's the time of year when I start saying goodbye to those things that mean summer to me:
long morning bike rides where I can go as far as I want, a quiet house when I return.
sleepy, lazy children, and my kudzu-like wisteria shooting tendrils across my patio.
staying inside because it's too hot to venture out, cool showers that decrease body heat and late nights, waiting for the air to cool so I can open a window.
my birthday, my brother's family visiting, picnics up the canyon.
sleeveless tees and suntans.
the winding down of gardening season, when I feel less sadness about the state of my yard: there is always next year.
summer is not yet over, but once the kids return to school everything shifts.

the sky glittered with stars this morning, and I pointed out to bill what I thought yesterday might be the little dipper. on closer inspection this morning, I was no longer sure. there were three stars, perfectly aligned, on the left side of the constellation, and I started wondering it that was orion's belt. how obvious is it that I've never taken an astronomy class? taking such a class is on my "someday" list. I would love to know all about the night sky, but I'm not quite ready to free up time and brain power for such an education. I will get there, someday.
this morning, however, I realized that I drink in information, whether it be collected through visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, or intuitive senses, and then I fit that information into my existing paradigms. I suppose we all do this. I smell something: I try to categorize it, make sense of it within my existing knowledge base. I see something small and fluttery: I immediately select "bird" and "bat" from possible explanations, and use further actions to determine which category to place it in. people behave in certain ways, and I work to fit it in with what I know of human behavior. most always, this works.

but with my star show this morning, I was given a perfect lesson of it not always working. I know so few constellations, my paradigm is pretty narrow and inflexible. so when I saw a group of stars, I tried to make it be the little dipper. then when three stars, aligned beautifully, were sharper and brighter than the others, I tried to make them fit orion's belt. because I don't know anything else.
what a great lesson! because I know so little, I try to make everything I see fit into what I know. maybe this is human nature, perhaps we all do this, regardless of the stimulant.
cycling the other morning I smelled something so beautiful, so rich and sweet and enticing I just wanted to pedal around in circles right where I caught the fragrance. It was easily the most glorious aroma I've ever smelled while cycling. (except perhaps that from great harvest, or the bakery at dan's grocery store, but these are in a completely different category.) and I have no idea what that fragrance was, nor could I even describe it's properties. I tried to. my brain immediately tried to disect it, to connect it with something I knew, to label it. but it failed. I couldn't give you any descriptors other than rich, full, sweet, warm . . . and I wanted to be able to say "lavender" or "freesia" or "hyacinth" or "orange blossom."
I was caught without a paradigm, and I had to just accept that the world contained something beautiful and glorious that I myself was unable to contain or label.

the stars. the night sky offers them all up to me, and the lesson I learned this morning is that my job is to welcome them, be grateful they exist, and to just glory in their beauty without trying to fit them into conceptual schemes. I don't need to classify everything. in fact, I will probably find the world to be more peaceful, abundant, and glorious if I just let everything be it's own unique self, without a label, a classification, or sometimes even a name.

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