"Time has no meaning, space and place have no meaning, on this journey. All times can be inhabited, all places visited. In a single day the mind can make a millpond of the oceans. Some people who have never crossed the land they were born on have traveled all over the world. The journey is not linear, it is always back and forth, denying the calendar, the wrinkles and lines of the body. The self is not contained in any moment or any place, but it is only in the intersection of moment and place that the self might, for a moment, be seen vanishing through a door, which disappears at once."
- Jeanette Winterson
How hard it is to take September
straight - not as a harbinger
of something harder.
Merely like suds in the air, cool scent
scrubbed clean of meaning - or innocent
of the cold thing coldly meant.
How hard the heart tugs at the end
of summer, and longs to haul it in
when it flies out of hand
at the prompting of the first mild breeze.
It leaves us by degrees
only, but for one who sees
summer as an absolute,
Pure State of Light and Heat, the height
to which one cannot raise a doubt,
as soon as one leaf's off the tree
no day following can fall free
of the drift of melancholy.
- Mary Jo Salter
A Kiss in Space
The fire in leaf and grass
so green it seems
each summer the last summer.
The wind blowing, the leaves
shivering in the sun,
each day the last day.
A red salamander
so cold and so
easy to catch, dreamily
moves his delicate feet
and long tail. I hold
my hand open for him to go.
Each minute the last minute.
- Denise Levertov
"Whatever way you put it, I am here only because my world is here. When I took my first breath, my world was born with me. When I die, my world dies with me. In other words, I wasn't born into a world that was already here before me, nor do I live simply as one individual among millions of other individuals, nor do I leave everything behind to live on after me. People live thinking of themselves as members of a group or society. However, this isn't really true. Actually, I bring my own world into existence, live it out, and take it with me when I die."
- Kosho Uchiyama
It's in the imagination
With which you perceive
And the gestures
With which you honor it.
- Mary Oliver
from The Swan
"I am a landscape," he said,
"a landscape and a person walking in that landscape.
There are daunting cliffs there,
and plains glad in their way
of brown monotony. But especially
there are sinkholes, places
of sudden terror, of small circumference
and malevolent depths."
"I know," she said. "When I set forth
to walk in myself, as it might be
on a fine afternoon, forgetting,
sooner or later I come to where sedge
and clumps of white flowers, rue perhaps,
mark the bogland, and I know
there are quagmires there that can pull you
down, and sink you in bubbling mud."
- Denise Levertov
from Zeroing In
"I will argue that modern science, traditionally considered guilty of reducing our existence to a pointless accident in an indifferent universe, is actually saying the opposite. While it does say that we are an accident in an indifferent universe, it also says that we are a rare accident and thus not pointless.
As we look at planet Earth and the factors that came into play for us to be here, we quickly realize that our planet is very special. Here is a short list: the long-term existence of a protective and oxygen-rich atmosphere; Earth's axial tilt, stabilized by a single large moon; the ozone layer and the magnetic field that jointly protect surface creatures from lethal cosmic radiation; plate tectonics that regulate the levels of carbon dioxide and keep the global temperature stable; the fact that our sun is a smallish, fairly stable star not too prone to releasing huge plasma burps. Consequently, it's rather naive to expect life - at the complexity level that exists here - to be ubiquitous across the universe.
Even if there is intelligent life elsewhere and, of course, we can't rule that out, it will be so remote that for all practical purposes we are alone. Even if SETI finds evidence of other cosmic intelligences, we are not going to initiate a very intense collaboration. And if we are alone, and alone have the awareness of what it means to be alive and of the importance of remaining alive, we gain a new kind of cosmic centrality, very different - and much more meaningful - from the religiously-inspired one of pre-Copernican days, when Earth was the center of Creation: we matter because we are rare and we know it.
The joint realization that we live in a remarkable cosmic cocoon and that we are able to create languages and rocket ships in an otherwise apparently dumb universe ought to be transformative. Until we find other self-aware intelligences, we are how the universe thinks. We might as well start enjoying each other's company."
- Marcelo Gleiser
"The range of the human mind, the scale and depth of the metaphors the mind is capable of manufacturing as it grapples with the universe, stand in stunning contrast to the belief that there is only one reality, which is man's, or worse, that only one culture among the many on earth possesses the truth.
To allow mystery, which is to say to yourself, "There could be more, there could be things we don't understand," is not to damn knowledge. It is to take a wider view. It is to permit yourself an extraordinary freedom: someone else does not have to be wrong in order that you may be right."
- Barry López