Enchantment No 37 Clarity December 16, 2020

Artist William Carter Baggett

Waking up in the inky dark has compensations. Last night I slowly made my way to our sky light and tilted my brain stem backwards to take in the unknowable milky way of stars shining their hearts out from 100,00 light years away.

Scanning the heavens can give you a shiver. As a minuscule animal scurrying about creation, I was humbled and devoted in service to what the shenanigans of 2020 made clear.

I called on Ms Cook, the spirit side of my persona, because they are almost always in good humor except when disappointed by forks in the road which display extremes – reboot OR a plunge into the abyss. A glance at the infinite made me aware of the universal call to rewire.

In January I was given the tools, a metaphor to be sure, in the form of cataract surgery. Artificial lens replacement not only eradicated the foggy landscape, but in an outpatient procedure handily replaced the faulty lens with which I was born.

I was given the bandwidth to see that tired conversations about scary limitations were not in the least bit helpful. Corona springtime rolled in for me with 20/20 technicolor vision alongside an awakening and the insight to examine the things that had always been in the dark:

The dark. Simmer down says the dark. Consider tenderness says the starlight.

Ego, please take a seat. In fact, take a hike until you can learn your rightful place.

With air to breath, combined-effort steps up. Curiosity arrives as a sure bet.

A wildly hopeful chronicle of approaches floods the formerly aimless way of viewing universal challenges –

How about a respectful saunter into another’s culture, beliefs and work as a prescription for righteousness angst? Reading about anything and everything of interest is a recommended daily vitamin.

Armed with this prescription and this vitamin, empathy (i.e. the ability to understand and share the feelings of another) is guaranteed to make gains with the achievement of new insight.

I recently read that the mass of our stuff (buildings, roads, cars and everything we manufacture) now exceeds the weight of all living things on the planet. Can we fathom such implications? Restoration and innovation is a path away from the precipice to a saner and starrier economic show.

Shall we examine again the community model of farming, the only way to nourish both small farmers and our cells? Deep in our bones we know too that waste is an offense to humanity. If we have more than enough, we must share because as the great Booker T. Washington once said, “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”

The examples of lives lived with such harmonies are endless.

A recent series called Earth at Night in Color narrated by Tom Hiddleston proved how little we can fathom the cost of our dominion. A excerpt explored an ancient migratory path for multiple bird species traveling through the city of Chicago which grew over time. The intensity of illumination today, making the light many times more powerful than the sun, faults their sense of flight. Thousands are found dead each morning. Is there a way to simmer down in the name of essential and winged beauty?

Bill Cunningham was a fashion historian who recently passed into star dust. For students of his New York Times photo essays (1978 to 2016), his absence is a loss of huge proportion, but the examination of his lifestyle is one for the books.

Completely odd in his frugality, he was lucid in his intention. His life was spent sleeping on a cot made up of his work in the Carnegie Hall building and buying practically nothing but a new bicycle when need be. He was unobtrusive in his ability to document others, never selling out. When interviewed for the posthumous film The Times of Bill Cunningham, his joyful nature was often interrupted with tears of empathy which would sweep in and overtake him.

A quote by Mr. Cunningham himself was printed on his funeral program: “It is as true today as it ever was. He who seeks beauty shall find it.”

So in the quiet of the deep dark, the gravity of new vision brings me to beauty and truth as the ticket. The ticket to the show this year has been free of charge, but oh so costly. Still with gratitude it comes to light that I am not the same limited animal that I was.

Someone of late called me sentimental in the way of prompting a reform, something that perhaps, I should outgrow. But instead I’ll go for the advice of my father who often quoted John Keats as a way to set the record straight for himself and those who cared to listen: Beauty is truth and truth beauty.

Stargazing into a new year ushers in a point of view with not so much the fatigue of divide and conquer but more the truth and beauty of a cohesive cosmos. This is not work for the nearsighted, but rather for those who sign up for new lenses.