Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Loren Eisley


I was listening to RadioLab live from Seattle this morning. They were performing a program about the extinction of the dinosaurs, and a new theory that they were all killed by a meteor, and rather quickly. It was fascinating, but at the end of the segment, Robert Krulwich quoted the science writer Loren Eisley, with whom I am unfamiliar. I may want to familiarize myself. 

I have been very busy lately, as happens near the holidays, and all with good things.  Some things have been making me emotional, some are tiresome.  I've shot a short that I've wanted to shoot for a long time, and I've spent time with friends, seen movies, gone to Disneyland.  Even when things are good, though, I can get stressed out. I can forget the larger picture, which is more and more becoming an unknown I can relax into. For years, I had such anxiety about mortality, and larger questions.  More and more, I am finding that there is so much we can't know that I can revel somewhat in the overwhelm. It somehow becomes magical that we're here at all. It releases me to explore things that terrified me before, as they have been stripped of importance. I'm not arguing for some anti-social carelessness here, some nihilistic abandon, but rather the freedom that comes in accepting that everything has a place and a time, much beyond my knowledge, but appreciation of what is in front of me makes moments sweet, time expand, and breath easier and fuller. 

Below is this beautiful quote from a book by Loren Eisley, that hints at the wonder of it all. I loved hearing it:

We are rag dolls made out of many ages and skins, changelings who have slept in wood nests or hissed in the uncouth guise of waddling amphibians.  We have played such roles for infinitely longer ages than we have been men.  Our identity is a dream.  We are process, not reality, for reality is an illusion of the daylight — the light of our particular day.  In a fortnight, as aeons are measured, we may lie silent in a bed of stone, or, as has happened in the past, be figured in another guise.  Two forces struggle perpetually in our bodies:  Yam, the old sea dragon of the original Biblical darkness, and, arrayed against him, some wisp of dancing light that would have us linger, witful, in our human form.  “Tarry thou, till I come again” — an old legend survives among us of the admonition given by Jesus to the Wandering Jew.  The words are applicable to all of us.  Deep-hidden in the human psyche there is a similar injunction, no longer having to do with the longevity of the body but, rather, a plea to wait upon some transcendent lesson preparing in the mind itself.

1 comment:

David Harbes said...

I heard and loved that quote too, do you what book Eisley's you quote from?