How to Save a Planet

philodendron leaf on b&w bg

The hand reaching through the darkness shadows’ light.

This is a very big and very simple idea. For the moment, try to ignore the irony of words being highly subjective, and of the annoying fact that there is no less clunky a word for something so important. But know that art and music are more efficient, historically proven, and powerful modes of communication than strings of words. They predate writing by millions of years, and are the basis for all forms of communication, which in turn led to an ability to collaborate and make a society into a civilization.

In fact words are a combination of pictorial and aural information; both sensed and perceived. They are no more than symbols which we attribute meaning to. You may read the word “nature” and think of the woods and the wilderness; the birds and the bees; all that is fully removed from the synthetic-seeming world of everyday life. Another person may read “nature” and think of all the world, including humanity, as being part. Some words are far less open-ended, such as ‘box’, but everyone will have in their mind a prototype for what a box really¬†is – the thing that can be called a box out of convenience and fluency of conversation. Words like “the” and “and” are almost universally understood but difficult to define and impossible to reduce further – as such they are the purest words, unburdened by complexity. They are still, however, only symbolizing exactly what we read them to be.

With all that having been said, a book is a collection of words grouped into phrases and [usually] subdivided into sections. All the phrases, verses, sentences, passages, chapters are none but groups of symbols on a page or screen or background of some kind. Just as the word is subjective, since it can be interpreted in infinite ways, a book is the same, multiplied by as many words as there are. Infinity times infinity. Regardless of who the author was, the book will stand alone, open to [over]interpretation. If it were a picture book, there would be no argument – but something about words lends itself to conflict, and unfortunately some apocryphal texts turn meaningless lives into mindless and dangerous cults. All because of the fear of accepting fate, so to speak – “true knowledge comes in admitting you know nothing” – it took me a long time to see the beautiful truth behind these words, and yet I probably could have seen it sooner if I’d only let go of my preconceptions for a little while.

We cannot have constant squabbling over who is right and who is wrong; who is ‘chosen’ and who is not – it is ludicrous to think that this is at all beneficial to the world, because it is selfish by nature. All the warring in the past has been rooted in disagreement over who is correct, when neither side is. It is the most nefarious force working against humanity – groupthink; siding with the majority in order to belong. Or, simply, to give order to the scary chaotic world all around. How long it will take for people to see that the world is neither scary nor chaotic, but in fact, endlessly imaginative, and simple yet beautiful in its complexity, is beyond me. But that is what has to occur for us to take our nuclear arms and put them into use in space travel, rather than stockpiling them in a Dr. Strangelove-esque dystopia of mutually assured destruction (and collective fear of a ‘doomsday gap’).

Bottleneck at the Hillary Step

I am driven both inward and outward by other people who maybe were once close but now are far away but like to pretend they are still close, and people who were close but who half-willingly pushed me away out of fear that they might be sabotaging their relationships or their own lives, or social lives, or reputations, or pretty much anything, by risking getting dragged into my whirlpool of freakishly talented alienation and never getting back out. I think the truth is they know that if such a course were to be followed, they could never go back to their old ways – which they know deep down are suspect and surrounded by dubious ideals and stagnating over-easy answers to lifelong and fully unanswerable questions, and of course, other people similarly ensconced and embedded. Wedded.

The wedding is the symbol of something that has eluded me for the same reasons I have reflexively been evading it. I might muse about how it has been the cause of it, that I have been so idealistic and fiercely protective of my freedom and equally vigilant about my morality… but it feels like it will be empty lament in the end, since I just want something I cannot have without sacrificing things I cannot sacrifice… or so I may begin to believe, in this very hermit-like seclusion which itself may be a droning, looping cause-effect debate of the same nature [or nurture]. People may debate choice or proclaim a simple answer of going and finding and meeting people, but who they themselves admit that following one’s instinct is generally the best advice, and all the while making the maddeningly eternal leap of judgment that there is something broken that needs to be fixed. Inevitably they will become defensive when the reality of their own ignorant foundations begin to surface, like the French waiter in Monty Python’s ‘The Meaning of Life’ who takes us on a very long journey to his modest hovel in the countryside in order to explain the secret to living well – and in failing to do so adequately, becomes incensed and evasive, angrily stomping back to his house despite nobody even being there or talking to him. It’s truly one of those meta moments you cannot express in words as well – the person who gets angry in order to preserve his own fallacious and thoughtless way of life. So many times people just don’t want to think about such things, or do such things, or wait till their child is gone before they do – and then hide behind their children as proof of their self-worth, never willingly shedding their outer layers and living a repeating motif with the paradox of illusory change and improvement in the future. It’s a terrible tragedy to see up close, but if you want to, go and talk to any random person you know… nobody really, just somebody.