30 January 2011

more perspective

Exactly 444 years before the day of my birth, Hernando Cortes set fire to the Aztec aviaries of the besieged city of Tenochtitlan. I did the math years ago when I first read "Crossing Open Ground" by Barry Lopez, struck by the horror of the event and by my birth date there on the page. I was instantly connected. Tied at an emotional level to something occurring almost half a century before my first breath.

No other animals seem to connect the dots the way humans do. For good or bad, we seek them out, find the links or make them up. They become the building blocks of our personal history, family stories, myth. Culture. Religion. Tradition. Philosophy. It's what makes us feel like we are a part of something. Gives us meaning, or in some cases, purpose.

How did that happen? What makes us seek validation of our own existence beyond this moment of breath and blood and heartbeat? What are we looking for? Would we even know if we found it?

One of my early college professors told me the wisest man would finish reading every book ever written and, if he learned anything, dismiss them all.

Perspective is a tricky thing. Turning everything up on its head when least expected. Calling into question old assumptions. Opening a surprise feeling from the words of a story.

But isn't that exactly what we're looking for?

Sherri



"Don't miss the conversation."
 - Pam Houston, given as advice to new MFA students at orientation

3 comments:

  1. your husband1/30/11, 3:41 PM

    ah ha, my love, just as I suspected...you *are* the bird that rose from the fire...

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  2. Being human, searching for that balance between meaning and meaninglessness, connection and isolation. A lovely post Sherri.

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