The goodness of life depends on the way we view it — no, not really. That is a vague statement. Let me be more accurate. How good my life — or your life — is depends on the value I perceive in it for myself. No one else’s valuation matters. I choose. You choose. Nothing new, nothing you or I have not heard before.
Tonight, as I sit in my backyard, I choose how to see my little slice of the world. I could complain and list grievances against the destruction of some elements of the natural world, or I could rejoice in the peaceful coexistence, connection, and unity of Nature and humanity.
Make no mistake; sometimes, we humans are destructive, greedy, and stupid. However, as I sit here composing this on my computer, untethered to an outlet, and preparing to send this out for virtually anyone in the world to read via electricity, cables, satellites, and radio waves, I am enjoying the chirping of crickets and cicadas, the late evening ritual of the birds tucking themselves in to roost, and fireflies flicking their bioluminescence throughout the shrubs, plants, and trees I can see from right where I sit. We can make sense of and enjoy this life, by choice. My heart chooses to enjoy.
Sometimes, the greed and shortsightedness of humans spurred by ego to wholesale, selfish destruction of Nature for personal gain would be another heart issue, and one my heart deals with definitively and harshly. However, tonight I speak of my current, common environment, and I am at peace as I feel the organic flow of Nature and her forces used by humans for the creation of a progressing civilization and my place in it.
And these thoughts bring me to Walt Whitman’s epic “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” which was meant to be my focus today. My old friend Walt had this view of Self in the midst of and in relation to Nature and creations of humanity, a view harmonizing the three entities through Heart. Whatever heart view might be — observations positive or critical — it is not drenched in bitterness, despair, and hopelessness — even when remedies are in order. No, Walt views his life and traces the movement of Spirit in all, and his heart mediates with Spirit to yield the interconnectedness of all in this earth.
How do I know this? In Section 5, as I find him in the environs of New York (remember in the mid-19th century it was much different than now!), he says in his view of life and the connections which he wishes to experience and live, “What is it then between us? / What is the count of the scores or hundreds of years between us? / Whatever it is, it avails not — distance avails not, and place avails not, / I too lived, Brooklyn of ample hills was mine, / I too walk’d the streets of Manhattan island…I too had been struck from the float forever held in solution, / I too had received identity by my body…”
I marvel at this, and yet I know the reality of it. An eternal being, one of the Spirit, with the Spirit, now in a mortal world, experiencing and knowing eternity in this mortal body and recognizing that all around me — and not just now but past and future, too — consists of that same Spirit. All around me has taken different forms in expressing Spirit, but all “struck from the float forever held in solution,” the solution of eternal Spirit awaiting physical expression. Absolutely, amazingly incredible.
Then, he, as I, decides to relate to everyday experiences, people, objects, processes, everything in recognition of that Spirit in all. In Section 8, Walt says, “Ah, what can be more stately and admirable to me than mast-bemm’d Manhattan? / River and sunset and scalloped-edg’d waves…the sea gulls, the hay-boat…We understand then, do we not?” that “which fuses me into you now, and pours my meaning into you.” The harmony and unity of Self, Nature, and human Constructs as expression of and vibrating with the energies of the spirit of life. We are in this together.
Walt says of the buildings around him as he closes the poem, “We use you, and do not cast you aside — we plant you permanently within us, / We fathom you not — we love you — there is perfection in you also, / You furnish your parts toward eternity, / Great or small, you furnish your parts toward the soul.” He says that they cannot hide as spiritless globs but are part of this spiritual world as they have been created into it. We can choose to view them this way, to view life this way, to identify in unity with all.
How do you view your everyday life? Do you see it in terms of eternity? Do you commonly get down, despairing, confused? Try choosing Heart to see all around in harmony, for Heart mediates with Spirit, and our heart is our identity, our core Self, in relationship — not dejected isolation — to all.
Our choice in how we view and relate to everyday life, things, people, and Spirit determines our reality. We get to choose, and the slightest movement towards appreciating nature or a sidewalk or architecture — just a simple “Wow” or “That’s cool” — can begin that cascade of joy in unity with life.
Questions to consider:
How many times have you asked yourself or simply thought about the following questions?
Who am I, really?
What is my truth?
How do my actions reveal what I really feel and believe?
What would I do with my life if I could do anything?
What is my passion?
Why am I here?
How can I discover answers to any of these questions?
If you have considered any of these questions, I hope that my experiences and writing will give you some guidance. Please read my blog and comment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!