Bird Droppings January 28, 2013
We should be examining the threads of life
“Man did not weave the web of life – he is merely a strand in it.
Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” Chief Seattle, 1854
It has been a few years since I read a National Geographic article where the lead in photo was a superimposed image of goats hanging from spider webs. Genetic engineering was in the process of producing in goat milk the proteins from spider silk webbing. Spider web silk being one of the strongest natural occurring fibers known to man. The biggest problem being there is not much of it. On some morning as I go out to sit and think many issues are pressing it may be a busy day ahead, or a paper due later electronically, or papers to grade. I generally start my morning listening through the darkness I could hear my dog rustling as she does through the bushes trying to find the elusive chipmunks and whatever other great creatures she hunts in our back yard. A car alarm broke the semi silence and was quickly silenced more than likely someone rolled over and as I do often accidentally hit remote panic button.
The sky for a change this weekend was clear and stars were visible as far as you can see from midst the pines and oak trees. At that moment as I stood facing the east I was alone and the center of my world. For two mornings the sunrise was splashed across the sky in vivid colors. On some morning when temperatures allow silken strands find their way from grass stem to weed stem literally covering hundreds of feet. It is an interconnecting web of life. Perhaps that is what drew me to this statement from Chief Seattle. So often we go about life as the center of the universe only seeing that all revolves around us. In medieval times this was the cause for much debate being that to them man the center of all that is. I find it amazing that civilized people have a difficult time with this. In most indigenous cultures more primitive people see themselves as merely a cog in a great machine of life.
“This we know; the earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected” Chief Seattle, 1854
There is much controversy as to actual words spoken by Chief Seattle. Some say the translation written by a friend was not truly what was said and since recording devices were in their infancy and only transcribed translations are available we are left with the words as they are. It is said many were moved to tears as he spoke these words. So many times as I sit outside my room observing students and teachers pass by I see many view life from the center not as a part of all that is.
“That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses are tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires. Where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the eagle? Gone. The end of living and the beginning of survival.” Chief Seattle, 1854, these lines are attributed to early 20th C. historian and ethnographic writer, A. C. Ballard added after many years
I was intrigued as different versions of Chief Seattle’s speech seem to be recorded. There is one version that has even been suggested as having been written for Hollywood and a movie. I read the end of the speech which is the line above and perhaps Mr. Ballard did add these lines man years later but the last line interested me. “The end of living and beginning of surviving”. How far have we come in civilization to go from living off the land to trying and surviving on it? Back in the day not that long ago a family could live and do well on a small farm raising what they needed how fast quickly things changed. I recall a scene from a recent movie “The Missing”. A farm family in the west raising horses and cattle the oldest daughter goes to town to see all the new-fangled contraptions to make life easier, at a fair. Perhaps it is here we changed from living to surviving. Was it when we stopped making what we needed and started buying things to make life easier?
Soon we needed things to do with time freed up and leisure become a major part of our day. Interesting how we now need to make more income to enjoy our leisure and surviving becomes more than just food and clothing but being able to afford having a “good” time. The film was about a clash between old and new in some ways in old faith and new science. There was the under lying clash of change from living to surviving and from freedom to dependency.
“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” Mother Teresa
It is hard to feel at times that what we do is of significance perhaps never noted in meetings or from friends but each step each whisper each smile is carefully noted down by someone and it is meaningful to that person as they go through life. How many thousands of times did Mother Theresa feel like that drop in the ocean as she held the hand of a leper in a back street of Calcutta. How much easier and safer is it for some of us to live our lives as we do not paying attention from one point to another.
“Oneness is all inclusive. Nothing nor no one is exempt; that is the way it always has been; that is the way it is; and that is the way it always will be.” Chief Seattle
We are all connected, intertwined and each a piece of the web, a thread, a drop and yet all meaningful pieces to this great puzzle of life. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and always give thanks namaste.
Wa de (Skee)