Maya

Beltane and the Recovery Moon

Made a decision about the commute for radiation. Gonna go home through Deer Creek Canyon. Use the Canyon for its consolation. I did that today after picking up another O2 concentrator for Kate.

The sky was blue with cumulus clouds rising high above the mountains. Deer Creek ran fast down the canyon, fed by the now melting snow, late and in large volume. The rocky sides of the mountains, sometimes square, sometimes fragmented, sometimes rising in sheer cliffs sported lodgepole pines on either side of the road.

Looked up at the clouds. Then to the mountains, the rock, their height, lifting on either side of the canyon created by the running water, Deer Creek. Oh. We look at the mountains and we see permanence, stolidity. Mass unmovable and unmoved. We look at the clouds and we think evanescence, temporary. Gone as the heat rises or as the night cools.

But. We’re wrong. The clouds are only a visual manifestation of the water that is of this earth. It moves in cycles. Down the creek. Filling reservoirs and lakes. It evaporates and rises until, chilled by the cooler altitudes, it forms clouds. The temporary appearance of the clouds is an illusion, a trick of what Alfred North Whitehead would call a fallacy of misplaced concreteness. We see them as objects isolated against the blue sky. They’re not. They’re a particular manifestation of the water cycle and their essence, water itself, is not lost when the clouds disappear.

The mountain’s permanence is, as I’ve written here before, also an illusion. The snowmelt now feeding mountain streams all over the state takes a swipe, a soft swipe at the rock, dislodging particles created by the freeze and thaw cycles of winter. The lodgepole pines, scenic, supported by these rock behemoths, dig in, too, their roots spreading in crevices, forcing pebbles and small rocks to roll down hill. These are young mountains, these Rockies. Some day they will be rolling hills like the Appalachians.

Then, of course, there is the day itself. In this case warm, even hot. But the heat will flee the setting of the sun. Yes, the earth will continue to radiate heat, but not as much, when the sun sets. And the season, leaves coming, flowers blooming, deer fawns and elk calves following more mature animals, will get hotter and hotter. The fawns and calves will grow. The leaves will die back. Cold will come again. Another cycle.

I look at my hands on the steering wheel. These are old man’s hands. Wrinkled, blue veined, knuckles a bit swollen. My life is another cycle. I’m not permanent. Neither is the mountain. Neither are those fawns and calves.

This is maya. We see the cloud and think of its short existence. We see the mountain and think of its long existence. We feel the warmth of the day and imagine each day just like this one. No. The Great Wheel turns. It’s turning reminds us of the impermanence of all things.

Paradoxically though all things are permanent, too. They may change organization as entropy, the change agent of this universe, works its destructive powers, yet becomes the unwitting supplier of parts for the next mountain, the next human, the next cloud.

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