Thursday, August 11, 2022

August 11: All His Greatness and His Glory, Poetry Workshop, Perseids

Santiago feels much better, but is still suffering . . .

With his prayers said, and feeling much better, but suffering exactly as much, and perhaps a little more, he leaned against the wood of the bow and began, mechanically, to work the fingers of his left hand.

The sun was hot now although the breeze was rising gently.

"I had better re-bait that little line out over the stern," he said. "If the fish decides to stay another night I will need to eat again and the water is low in the bottle. I don't think I can get anything but a dolphin here. But if I eat him fresh enough he won't be bad. I wish a flying fish would come on board tonight. But I have no light to attract them. A flying fish is excellent to eat raw and I would not have to cut him up. I must save all my strength now. Christ, I did not know he was so big."

"I'll kill him though," he said. "In all his greatness and his glory."

Santiago admires the fish in all its greatness and glory, but he is still determined to kill it.

I'm not sure if that is just normal human instinct--to see something wondrous and somehow need to subdue and conquer it.  That's what we've been doing since we crawled out of the primordial ocean ooze.  If there's a mountain, we want to climb it.  If there's a large body of water, we want to sail across it or drill for oil in it.  Forests are cut down for roads, and animals are killed for sport or money.

Humankind is a pretty destructive force on this little blue rock of a planet.  Just ask the next glacier you see.

Tonight, I led a poetry workshop that was all about wonder and mystery in the universe.  Currently, the Perseid meteor shower is lighting up the night sky.  There's nothing like lying on your back in the grass, staring up into the heavens, and seeing lights spark and zip in that black bowl.  That was the inspiration for tonight's writing.

Only a few people showed up.  That's fine.  It's mid-August, and residents of the Upper Peninsula know that our warm days and nights are numbered.  We have to take advantage of them.  I guess writing poetry is my way of subduing the mystery of the universe.  Maybe a better word would be "understanding."  But isn't the comprehension of mystery a way of controlling it?  

Very few people can live with negative capability--just accepting a situation without having to explain it fully.  It's not comfortable to live next door to mystery without going over and introducing yourself.  That's why things like lunar eclipses and meteor showers were historically seen as omens or portents.  I'm sure, in times past, the Perseids were seen as precursors to something wondrous or catastrophic.  That belief, however misguided, gave those zagging celestial sparks meaning and purpose.  Because everything that exists should have a purpose, right?  Beauty for beauty's sake or mystery for mystery's sake is an alien concept for most human beings.

Perhaps I'm being a little too deep tonight.  Wouldn't be the first time.  My point is fairly simple:  embrace mystery and wonder.

Saint Marty's blessings for tonight:  a beautiful sunrise and writing poetry with friends.

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