Friday, June 26, 2009

Perspective

The passing of famous people got Peter Daou thinking about how we view life and death.

Humans are impossibly lonely creatures, staring forlornly into time and space, without an anchor or a reference point, probing the depths of physics, philosophy, psychology, poetry, but forever bumping up against the unknowable.

My father, who died a decade ago, adored Edward Fitzgerald’s translation of the Rubaiyat — this quatrain in particular:

And that inverted Bowl we call The Sky,
Whereunder crawling coop’t we live and die,
Lift not thy hands to It for help–for it
Rolls impotently on as Thou or I.

Searching for the light behind the dark curtain, we turn to religion, to faith, to drugs, to music, to love. We get a glimmer of hope with stories of near death and other paranormal experiences. We meditate and pray. We look to nature and art and beauty.

And I think we do get glimpses of the light behind the curtain. In hypnagogic states, the twilight before sleep, in moments of transcendence when our thinking brain is suspended, in vague remembrances of a home, a place of origin whose location is timeless and dimensionless, in the sudden opening — and closing — of a portal during moments of intense fear and love and pain and pleasure, in the stillness of night and nature, in strange confluences and coincidences, in the inexplicable faith that somehow, somewhere, there is an answer.