Being human–the paradox continues.

In my last post, I prescribed patience in holding myself and my species in this place in time on the planet when it seems there is so much inhumanity toward humanity and to the earth. Last night I watched a documentary on human trafficking that turned my stomach. A vulnerable teen lured into the sex trade by 3 men for over 6 years before escaping. Yet today, just when I was almost seduced to cynicism, a poem came that reminded me of the other side of being human–how precious it is, how rich, how utterly beautiful. How this poet, a human being, can write such words and proclaim such truth. It came as an antidote to my nausea, a deeper perspective on being human–yes, we live, we die. The simplest definition of being human. Humans, homo sapiens, live on earth. A truth. The name human even derives from the meaning “earthling”. And in the Hebrew adamah or “ground”, thus the Old Testament story of God literally breathing life into “dirt” to create Adam, the first human.

Yet while we live on this earth as earthlings… ah, that can be a luminous thing if we listen well, if we see with eyes beyond the eyes that glimpse we are human, yet we are Being. So I also hold fast to the words of Clarissa Pinkola Estes ( Women Who Run With Wolves) who was taught by the grandmothers that reality is more than we live and then we die. As she writes in her story of the myth of The Skeleton Woman, our journey is Life/Death/LIFE. In most traditions and understanding, this refers to the physical aspect of the human body living and dying on this earth and then the spirit transcending the body–that in this physical body dwells the eternal. A truth for me as well.

But for me it also is true now, before my physical body is called by Death. Each day there can be living, then a dying, then a coming back to life– a rebirth, a transformation, a recreation to seeing the Real beyond the obscurations. Each time I am tempted to “traffic” my experience of being human, particularly of being a woman, I can be called back by the words of a friend, the smell of fresh bread filling the house, the planting of flowers or a poem such as this.

Picnic, Lightning  

It is possible to be struck by a
meteor or a single-engine plane while
reading in a chair at home. Pedestrians
are flattened by safes falling from
rooftops mostly within the panels of
the comics, but still, we know it is
possible, as well as the flash of
summer lightning, the thermos toppling
over, spilling out on the grass.
And we know the message can be
delivered from within. The heart, no
valentine, decides to quit after
lunch, the power shut off like a
switch, or a tiny dark ship is
unmoored into the flow of the body’s
rivers, the brain a monastery,
defenseless on the shore. This is
what I think about when I shovel
compost into a wheelbarrow, and when
I fill the long flower boxes, then
press into rows the limp roots of red
impatiens — the instant hand of Death
always ready to burst forth from the
sleeve of his voluminous cloak. Then
the soil is full of marvels, bits of
leaf like flakes off a fresco,
red-brown pine needles, a beetle quick
to burrow back under the loam. Then
the wheelbarrow is a wilder blue, the
clouds a brighter white, and all I
hear is the rasp of the steel edge
against a round stone, the small
plants singing with lifted faces, and
the click of the sundial as one hour
sweeps into the next. ~ Billy Collins ~

Planting the last pot..listening to their “lifted faces sing ” and coming back to life.

One thought on “Being human–the paradox continues.

  1. OMG! “Life/Death/LIFE” and the Diamond Approach with your caption “Looking back.” I was focused on the narrow path, and missed the distant horizon/mountains. “Looking back” at the distant horizon – BIRTH/New Life. Initially, I thought it was your view…”looking forward” at the distant horizon – DEATH/New Life. Or, maybe it is both…the past and the future??? Were you standing on that “Thin Line” between the past and the future…THE NOW!?!


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