Maya Angelou observes the state of humanity and responds to it through the natural elements of “A Rock, A River, A Tree.”
Why would she do this? It’s a literary tradition, but that’s not the reason. The reason it’s a literary tradition is the reason. Nature is the reason. Our intimate connection and relationship with Nature is the reason.
Because of that relationship, the Romantics often used Nature to reflect the inner emotional state of humans, especially, as Maya does here, to expose the conditions of society or simply illustrate them, the aggregate expression of individuals. We are often slow to learn.
The first eight lines lay out the Rock, River, and Tree as observers of history for eons, since the beginning of this whole ball of wax known as Earth. They witnessed the life, approaching doom, and extinction of the mastodon.
And the Rock, River, and Tree point out that while we may see the dry bones of dinosaurs like this, what we have failed, Failed, FAILED to see — to perceive, to intuit, to conclude — is the “broad alarm of their hastening doom” because no artifacts of that remain — but we should know.
Therefore, they will tell us, and we may learn, we may be warned, rise to respond to the alarm, of all the alarms around us now.
“[T]he Rock cries out to us” by offering a vantage point. We are invited to stand upon its back, its solid, sure, unshakable back. For what reason? What purpose would that serve? Rock tells us it is so that we “may stand upon [his] / Back and face [our] distant destiny.” We can see, know, perceive, and respond — if we would use Nature for the learning.
What might that imply? The Rock has a purpose that has not changed: it is solid, firm, unmoving, and collects evidence of history. Rock asks us, in essence, what our purpose is.
We have the ability to reason, a scale of creation “only a little lower than / The angels.” Our natural state here is one of peace, acceptance, kindness and compassion in the face of difficulties, and the ability to work through challenges and resolve conflicts to the end of freedom, freedom to love one another, to live in light, and create as divinity.
The alarm of our doom, as the mastodon’s did, billows around us, joining that dust of ages past. We “have crouched too long in / The bruising darkness, / Have lain too long / Face down in ignorance.”
In the ignorance of Ego, we have forsaken Heart-energy of love, light, peace, creative enthusiasm, empathy, compassion, and all those emotions and qualities of the higher frequencies of life. The Rock tells us we should recognize the approach of our doom in the warlike atmosphere that grips the nations of Earth: “Your mouths spelling words / Armed for slaughter.”
War, destruction, and hatred are Ego-energies. We have Ego, and it helps form us; however, we have Heart, eternal Spirit as the mature operating system, one we came to live. We have the ability to think, explore, and discover; war, hatred, and bullying, bravado, boastful power are Ego-energies we may rise above through toggling to the Heart Operating System.
The Rock tells us we can gain a vantage point to discern all this, and it willingly offers itself to us. The warning, though, is we have no right to hide under it, to continue living in the low vibrations of Ego and claim it’s human nature. It’s not. It’s a choice.
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!