Tuesday, August 25, 2015

In the Garden

A metaphor I like is that we humans are an infant spark of intelligence in the cosmos, barely into childhood. That the tribe has come as far as it has, as quickly as it has, is encouraging, and the future is as interesting as we care to make it. It is a much more comforting metaphor than the one that suggests we are wandering the halls and dorm rooms of an insane asylum, one being run by the inmates. Though the former may be the more accurate of the two ways of looking at our world, sometimes it feels like the later is closer to the truth.

Still, living in a nut house run by the nuts isn't all bad.  Like any good asylum ours has some outside garden spots and pathways. Places where those who can, and care to, may wander. Places where the industrial lighting, mind numbing hues painted on the walls, and the babbling, cries, and violence the inhabitants inflict one upon the other are, at least for a while, in the background. Even the remotest of the gardens are still within the purview of the insane, but some remain largely unnoticed. Those who can find them can remain mostly unnoticed as well.

Places one can get to on a smallish sailboat.

Others enjoy the garden spots as well. Since the only measure we have of sanity, intelligence, and wisdom is ourselves, it is impossible to tell if those who frequent the gardens really are sane. A person who suffers from a cold is still in better health than a person who has the flu, but neither one is truly “well”. For the most part though, it seems that those of us who spend time in the gardens don't often display the worst of the insanity loose in the hallways and dorm rooms. Sometimes a spot in the garden is empty, and the only insanity around is that which the lone inmate brings along. Which is the next best thing to being sane.

Another good thing about the garden spots is, though still within the walls of the asylum, they really are outdoors. When night comes to soften the view of the trash on the beach and the syringes floating in the water, the stars and the moon fill the void with a caress of unconcern. Except for a few footprints on the moon and a dozen or so small sensor packages (only two of which that have managed to leave the solar system) the night sky is untouched by, and cares nothing about, the inmates flailing away behind the wall of earth's gravity well. 

To allude to the first metaphor; it is the indifference of a Master watching a class of students struggle with complexities. Some will manage. Some will not. The Master has no concern as to who is who. On the scale of the University of the Universe our whole tribe, indeed the entire history of the planet, is but a single class tucked away in one of the smaller collages.  We might make it.  We might not. The cosmos does not care.

Those who live on small boats can spend most of their time in the garden, daring the halls and dorm rooms only when necessary. Should some giant and deadly food fight break out in one of the cafeterias, there is a good chance we will be far away and miss all the drama.  

Which is the second next best thing to being sane.

Courtesy of Amber Rennier @ Leave Happier Photography
There are, of course, other ways to get to the gardens.  There are those who hike and bike, kayak and fly. There are mountain climbers and those who, literally, spend time in their garden. Some play instruments, paint, or write. Sadly, many of them only get to do these things on a limited basis, having to spend most of their time in the hallways and dorm rooms.  Even more sad, it seems that an ever growing number of inmates never get out of the hallways or dorm rooms, ever.  All they know of the world is what they are told by those "inside".  A pretty good reason for the world to be going ever more insane.

And an even better reason to get on the boat and go looking for gardens.


Matt Mc. said...

In my profession, a master places complexities in front of students knowing full well they will struggle, observes their various endeavors and stumbles, and finally dives in. The master would then add complexities to those who managed easily, and provide navigational way-points to those who failed to do so. In all cases, the master has concern for all who struggle.

TJ said...

Matt, I debated using the term “Master” for the very reason that it evoked the ides of a consciousness, even a consciousness that is aware of the tribe of humans. Something I suspect is far, far from the truth of the matter. But it was a metaphor and those are a bit like derringers. You can take one good shot with them, maybe two. After that they come up empty.

That being said, I regard teachers as some of the best, brightest, and most admirable members of our tribe. That they are so routinely fired upon by the ruling elite of our country is one of the many reasons I have such little regard for, and hope for the soon replacement of, that same ruling elite. Unfortunately, at the moment it looks like we are going to trade the really bad for the downright ruinous. Which, perhaps, winds around to my original point. The universe really does not care, and will not do anything to dissuade us, from doing ourselves in.

If we could learn that, we might have a chance. The longer we imagine there is some agency out there looking out for us, the less chance we have.