“How can anyone say what happens, even if each of us dips a pen a hundred million times into ink?” -Rumi, “The Steambath”
Lately I’ve been happier, and happier that I can’t explain very much at all. Maybe happy’s not the right word?
I keep reading another book (or talking to another person) who suggests, think of it this way. And this way is lovely.
I used to think I’d figure things out. I remember a Philosophy class that was designed to walk through one ethical system after another. Was morality based on what some particular God ‘wanted’? Was it based on virtues? Or the highest good for the highest number? Or…something else? The brilliant professor arranged the semester so each system’s failings pushed us toward a new system. And that system had failings, too. At the end we were back where we started. I was as confused as ever. I had more questions than ever. At the time I thought I’d go around the circle a few more times, I’d “figure out where I stood.” Looking back, now, I notice how we looked at the world in lots of different ways. I think about perspectives I’ve heard since, perspectives outside the tradition that class was designed to explore. The manyness—the muchness—is delightful.
Maybe meaning is less a book on a pedestal, ink on a clear page, and more a whirl of autumn colors above a rich soil full of decaying leaves, and next year’s new leaves asleep, but not asleep forever.