Don McCullin, Early morning, West Hartlepool, 1963. This is such an amazing photo. Thank you, melisaki.
It is easy to overlook this thought that life just is. As humans we are inclined to feel that life must have a point. We have plans and aspirations and desires. We want to take constant advantage of the intoxicating existence we’ve been endowed with.
But what’s life to a lichen? Yet its impulse to exist, to be, is every bit as strong as ours-arguably even stronger. If I were told that I had to spend decades being a furry growth on a rock in the woods, I believe I would lose the will to go on. Lichens don’t. Like virtually all living things, they will suffer any hardship, endure any insult, for a moment’s additions existence. Life, in short just wants to be.
These are pregnant times throughout the world. Just as in geology we have breaking lines between huge blocks of earth, so today we are at the juncture between great blocks of time. This is the place of storm and volcano — and of becoming. In today’s reality, a small act can have far-reaching consequences, beyond imagination, whereas things that will be done five or ten years from today will be so much less effective. This is precisely the meaning of pregnant times: Anything can be born. And this is exactly the time when one must not sleep.
Whether pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral, gross or subtle, every sensation shares the same characteristic: it arises and passes away. It is this arising and passing that we have to experience through practice, not just accept as truth because Buddha said so or because intellectually it seems logical to us. We must experience sensation’s nature, understand its flux, and learn not to react to it.
“…In the afternoon, full of the sense that there was everything to be gained by leaving my winter-imposed solitude and seeking out the work of others–and work by living humans, not museum pieces–I drove down to Manhattan. Braving the icy wind off the Hudson and the sense that I don’t know anything about art, I walked around the art galleries of Chelsea. I came to a full stop at the show “Regions of Unlikeness” by the artist Celia Gerard at the Sears Peyton Gallery. Gerard’s abstract, geometical works in black and white have the power of making a viewer stay. “It’s amazing how they unfold,” said my friend, and I agreed. The triangles, spheres, and cones open into landscapes and unknown worlds in deep space. What is really uncanny about the works is that they unfold the viewer, waking up the energies in the body and opening the mind and heart. I felt like I could see and feel the ongoing search in the work, and it had the effect of calling to search along with the artist. Gerard’s work woke me up, yet made me feel very concentrated and still, like looking inside a vast crystal or up at a mountain, or inside myself. It gave me a feeling of nostalgia for places I have never travelled, a longing for a quality or state that is still unknown yet essential…home.
“I want to unfold/ I don’t want to stay folded anywhere/ Because where I am folded,/ There I am a lie….” These lines by Rilke echoed through my head as I drove home from Manhattan last night, and this morning when I woke.”
—Tracy Cochran “Regions of Unlikeness” @The Editors blog.