At the Fulcrum of All the Days

Image: 'Oncoming Rush,' by Christopher Octa on Flickr

[Image: “Oncoming Rush,” by Christopher Octa (user phrequency) on Flickr.com. (Used here under a Creative Commons license; thank you!)]

From whiskey river:

Foreseeing

Middle age refers more
to landscape than to time:
it’s as if you’d reached
the top of a hill
and could see all the way
to the end of your life,
so you know without a doubt
that it has an end—
not that it will have,
but that it does have,
if only in outline—
so for the first time
you can see your life whole,
beginning and end not far
from where you stand,
the horizon in the distance—
the view makes you weep,
but it also has the beauty
of symmetry, like the earth
seen from space: you can’t help
but admire it from afar,
especially now, while it’s simple
to re-enter whenever you choose,
lying down in your life,
waking up to it
just as you always have—
except that the details resonate
by virtue of being contained,
as your own words
coming back to you
define the landscape,
remind you that it won’t go on
like this forever.

(Sharon Bryan [source])

and:

Picture time less like a river than a book. Or a record. Something finished. Or a movie, with a beginning, middle, and end, but already done and complete.

Then picture time travel as nothing more than dropping your half-read book to the floor and losing your place. You pick up the book and open the pages to a scene too early or late, but never exactly where you’d been reading.

(Chuck Palahniuk [source])

…and:

Buffalo Yoga
(excerpt)

The world is a magic book, and we its sentences.
We read it and read ourselves.
We close it and turn the page down
And never come back,
Returned to what we once were before we became what we are.
This is the tale the world tells, this is the way it ends.

(Charles Wright [source])

Not from whiskey river:

It is a weakening and discoloring idea, that rustic people knew God personally once upon a time—or even knew selflessness or courage or literature—but that it is too late for us. In fact, the absolute is available to everyone in every age. There never was a more holy age than ours, and never a less. There is no less holiness at this time—as you are reading this—than there was the day the Red Sea parted, or that day in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as Ezekiel was a captive by the river Chebar, when the heavens opened and he saw visions of God. There is no whit less enlightenment under the tree by your street than there was under the Buddha’s bo tree. There is no whit less might in heaven or on earth than there was the day Jesus said “Maid, arise” to the centurion’s daughter, or the day Peter walked on water, or the night Mohammed flew to heaven on a horse. In any instant the sacred may wipe you with its finger. In any instant the bush may flare, your feet may rise, or you may see a bunch of souls in a tree. In any instant you may avail yourself of the power to love your enemies; to accept failure, slander, or the grief of loss; or to endure torture.

…and:

Are we ready to think of all humanity as a living tree, carrying on splendidly without us? We easily regard a beehive or an ant colony as a single organism, and even a school of fish, a flock of dunlin, a herd of elk. And we easily and correctly regard an aggregate of individuals, a sponge or coral or lichen or slime mold as one creature — but us? When people differ, and know our consciousness and love? Even lovers, even twins, are strangers are who love and die alone. And we like it this way, at least in the West; we prefer to endure any agony of isolation rather than to merge and extinguish ourselves in an abstract ‘humanity’ whose fate we should hold dearer than our own. Who could say, I’m in agony because my child died, but that’s all right: Mankind as a whole has abundant children? The religious idea sooner or later challenges the idea of the individual. The Buddha taught each disciple to vanquish his fancy that he possessed an individual self.

…and:

When Emperor Qin was thirty-one years old, a rival prince sent him an envoy bearing routine regal gifts: a severed head and a map. The envoy also bore a poisoned dagger in his sleeve. The comedy played itself out: When the assassin grabbed the emperor’s sleeve and drew the dagger, the sleeve tore off. The emperor found his dress sword too long to draw. He dashed behind a pillar. His courtiers gaped. The court doctor beaned the assailant with a medicine bag. The emperor ran around and around the pillar. Someone yelled to the emperor that he could draw his sword if he tilted its length behind him. He tried that, and it worked; he slashed the assassin’s thigh. The assassin threw his dagger; it hit the pillar. The emperor and his courtiers finished him off.

Seven years later, someone tried to kill the emperor with a lead-filled harp. The next year someone tried to ambush his carriage; the hapless assassin attacked the wrong carriage. Emperor Qin was almost forty by then, and getting nervous.

(all by Annie Dillard [source])

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