Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Belief Is A Personal Thing


“Life is life and death is death,” he said. “All the rest is human detail.”
A philosophy teacher I had in the 70s.

The huge sugar maple on the corner is exuberantly orange though the trees around it are still leafed in green. I lie back on my glider swing and watch white wisps of cloud sail before a high wind that does not reach me on here on the ground. I listen to the silence left behind by departed songbirds and summer bugs, and remember those words spoken years ago by a philosophy professor. My twenty-something self rebelled mightily against his words, sure that he was simply jaded and that with youthful zeal and diligent study I would prove him wrong, prove that life had meaning assigned by something bigger than ourselves. But now, amid the lazily spiraling leaves, the swift clouds, and the deep, autumnal silence, watching death approach cloaked in vibrant yellow, blazing orange, and sonorous purple, I think he was right. And thinking it makes me feel as peaceful as this autumn afternoon.

10 comments:

Molly said...

Oh Pauline! I have been thinking just such thoughts....Even here, where it is still warm, the year is hurrying by. The brevity of life is everywhere in evidence, the skeletons of the herbs in the garden offer up their sere seeds, from which life will spring again, for yet another exuberant season. In the meantime, people I love have died. And I feel no continuing connection to them, which is a bleak feeling. And I have to admit, people like your philosophy teacher, and my husband, are right.We are born and then we die. So why do we get our knickers in such a twist about the details?

focusfinder said...

Seasonal pictures - good stuff.

PhilipH said...

When we are young we have a different outlook on life. As we mature so does the outlook.

I still have this childhood memory of playing, alone, in the garden; I was probably about five or so. I was happy. I knew nothing of life and believed then that there were just children and grown-ups.

It never occurred to me that I would one day become an adult!

Some would say I'm still a young kid! So be it.

Pauline said...

Molly - ah, but life is in the details (a play on God is in the details, said by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe). It's the assumption of meaning in the beginning and the end I question ;)

Welcome praise from my favorite photographer friend - thanks, B!

Having the heart of a kid is a good thing, Philip!

Land of shimp said...

Isn't it funny? When we are younger we think the only fulfillment lies in great purpose. That everything must matter, and if that fails to be the case, life is rendered meaningless.

If I'd heard what your prof said in my twenties I think I also would have thought it a rather alarming viewpoint, something against which to fight.

Now it has a different meaning to me. One that makes me smile and say, "Isn't that the truth?" and oh how interesting the details end up being.

Long, long ago, the first time I can recall hearing, "The Devil is in the details." my father, a faithful man replied, "The devil only follows where God goes first."

Barbara said...

Age often puts things in perspective, doesn't it?

meg said...

YES! soo yes! exactly.

Pauline said...

LOS and Barbara - age does indeed change one's perspective. And some things just can't be explained. I am content with that now.

meg - thanks for stopping by with your enthusiastic agreement :)

steven said...

hello pauline - i love the perspective age provides, i miss the energy that youth provides. i love the arrival and passing of autumn because a great challenge unfolds: to find the little spirit sustaining details that are present in the depths of winter. little pockets of colour, little moments of magic. have a peaceful day. steven

Jean said...

"...“Life is life and death is death... ”

Yes !
That is real Bouddhisme .

J'aime beaucoup vos photos d'automne .