Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Completing the Triangle

Well, in keeping with the ideas of three sides like that of the triangle, three persons in the one Christian God, the triangular shape of Sicily and Il triangole industriale del Nord d'Italia fra Genova, Torino e Milano, I suppose I should write a third meditative post concluding my journey home.  This post will then make of the three a fitting triptych for my return journey, viz., the first post from La Stazione de Lamezia-Terme, the second dell'Aeroporto di Ciampino and now one from home - da casa.

The first thing that occurs to me as I sit here at my desktop, for the first time in almost two months is of the wee intense poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. 1850–1894 called, fittingly and morosely enough Requiem.  Here are the words:


Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie:
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you 'grave for me: 
Here he lies where he long'd to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

I learned this poem from my mother.  She knew it off by heart, and some old Presentation Nun had taught it to her at school when she was a child.  As a youngster I picked the words up naturally from here.  She used to constantly repeat the last two lines.  On occasion she would recite the poem in totality, but that occurred rarely.  Well indeed: "Home is the sailor, home from the sea,// And the hunter home from the hill."  Other thoughts that occur to me as I sit here typing these cyphers on a blank screen are these words from one of my favourite poets, T.S. Eliot:

We shall not cease from our exploration
And at the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
I do believe these lines come from the poem Little Gidding.  However, be that as it may or may not, what interests me are the sentiments expressed in those lines.  I have already mentioned in one of my last two posts of this wee triptych is that all travelling is spiritual, if your belief system allows the use of that term and its more religious connotations and denotations, or that travelling is metaphorical , to say the least, of our overall life journey.  We find that we are pilgrims of meaning on this earth.  Whether that meaning be one of a religious or spiritual or purely metaphorical or even materialism one (the last which I find hard to get my head around, though there are pure materialists, I believe out there - at least, they say there are!) we all have to make some meaning out of our lives, otherwise we should not even bother getting out of the bed.  And so the two quotations that were rattling around my mind somewhere are written in the light of what I believe to be the metaphorical sense of journey which we experience every time we travel.

So where have I travelled in the last two months?  Physically I have travelled to Calabria for three weeks and travelled there around for that period, returned to Dublin, drove to Arranmore, stayed a few nights, returned to Dublin and then returned for a further month to Calabria.  And I enjoyed every moment of those jouneys, both the travelling and the staying.  As the Buddhist phrase has it, and it is perhaps my most favourite Budedhist one: "Wherevere you go there you are!"  Well, wherever I went there I was, and here I am now typing these characters which make these words which make these sentences which make these paragraphs which make these posts which make this meaning here and now!

The water rushing ashore not far from my apartment in Isca
Spiritually (or metaphorically if you are more atheistic) I have also gone on a journey, an inner journey of self-discovery, a journey where I have read a lot of philosophy and psychology and novels and poems, all of which I have recounted in many posts on this page.  Diving down into one's psyche can be both frightening and exhilarating.  In fact doing anything worthwhile in life is both frightening and exhilarating:- studying, practising a musical instrument, training for sports of all kinds, going for promotion, entering relationships of all sorts and of all kinds, going on journeys all require the person to be made of stern stuff, to be able to knuckle down to work, to be able to take the consequent self-denial and necessary suffering, to experience the fear that makes the doing do-able or feasible, practical or practicable in the first place.  Ah yes, that is what it's all about: living life (and of course death, because death is not an end of life alone, but rather an integral part of it: to be a living being means to be a dying being, and indeed to be and to die are the two sides of the one thing; to be and to not be are two sides of the one reality of life-death or existence-non-existence if you like.  You see, when we try to philosophise about these things you will notice that language has a habit of getting in the way, of simply not being able to express fully what the heart/soul/mind/psyche/spirit feels and thinks, thinks and feels.  I often think there should be a third term called either "to feel-think" or "think-feel" something or other, whatever that might be.  Oh dear, I've been struggling with Hume and Schopenhauer, Magee, Russell, and Scruton too long this summer and I'm tying myself up in knots.  Sorry for the confusion here, but it is somewhat clearer to me than it was two months ago at the beginning of my journey. 

Now that all that is said, and that it is possibly as clear as muddy water, let me continue.  With R.L. Stevenson I have returned home, older and wiser and nearer the grave.  I have already visited my 93 year old mother who is alas almost completely happily demented and have sat with her for an hour.  It was a delightful hour, an hour of stillness and calm and compassion both for her heart/soul/mind/spirit/ psyche and for that of my own.  We went out onto the porch of her room and we fed the deer who nibbled the sweets we gave then gently from our hands.  Indeed, they even licked my sugary fingers, poor innocent things.  Deer are such beautiful animals.  And they work in unison as a herd, which strangley we did at the beginnings of our evolution.  That's where I loved reading the history of the Self and the Individual by Storr.  Imagine that we only know ourselves as selves and individuals in the last four hundred years,  This fact of knowledge has given me great solace.  I have begun at least to unlearn all the mythologies that culture has heaped upon our shoulders and indeed upon our minds for these past two thousand years or maybe more! I have learnt my sheer insignificance in the order of things, and funnily, then, the unusual significance of that insignificance.  I suppose the counter argument is also possible, that I have learnt also the insignificance of my significance in the order of things.  And then is there an order to things or do we impose that order merely?  And, then, why do we impose order?  Because we are meaning-making creatures, and why do we have to make meaning anyway?  Oh, my goodness, the questions are dropping heavily, but still let them rain down for that is what consciousness is all about, all about...

And lastly, with T.S. Eliot I have not ceased from exploration of my Self nor shall I, nor shall any conscious being.  And, yes, with him I am constantly returning home and constantly knowing the place anew once again until the jouney shall finally be finished as this post is NOW!

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