WINDOW TO MY LIFE
In the predawn moments of this morning’s new day, as muted achromatic light began to silently and ever so gradually filter around the wooden blinds of my bedroom, the mind in my head began to stir with thought. On the dimly visible ceiling of textured and painted drywall, a small dark speck appeared to the eyes of my psyche as I yet remained supine in the warm pleasure of flannel covers. Roughly 7 millimeters across, with a darker core area of 3 millimeters, my brain assessed the object as a tiny spider, standing motionless upside down, apparently not at all aware of Sir Isaac Newton’s apple law.
Initial conditioned thought demanded that I arise, procure a step stool and a square of toilet paper, and dispatch this minuscule creature from its current living state, thereafter disposing of it in the toilet. After all, it was invading my space, had no right to be here, and might eventually find its way into my bed to leave its jaw marks upon my tender skin some night in the future. For something of this size though, the walk to my bed would indeed be long and convoluted. My need to kill this organism would only arise from my fear of it.
Then, I did a curious thing, something most humans rarely do, something that challenged my mental processes, for I had no solid point of reference from which to think, no experiential past to assist my bizarre early morning endeavor. I attempted to envision what was going on in the mind of the lilliputian brown arachnid. Surely it had a mind, it breathed air, and I supposed it had a miniature circulatory system too, all aspects of this thing we call life that I also have. It was born in my town, to parents who had likely lived here all their lives, but I doubt it realized it was only a mile from the ocean, probably a distance it could not travel even if it could conceptualize the walk and then set out to accomplish it.
Somehow, this fellow life traveler had arrived on my ceiling, as part of its life journey, a journey that it found itself taking without any action on its part. The spider could not even contemplate these thoughts of course, living in a simpler world of survival and instinct. The spider was definitely not thinking about being young once again, wondering why it didn’t have many friends, or living in fear of someday dying. Without any conscious thought, it was living in the present moment, a simple moment for many humans who prefer past or future, but just another dawning day for an eight legged being who was sharing this morning with me in the same room. I felt compassion and wonder as I pondered our similarities.
I did not end this spider’s life today, realizing that it posed no serious threat to my survival or health, not being a black widow or brown recluse. My little friend still stands, or perhaps it’s sitting, on the ceiling in the same place as I type these words after having had breakfast and accomplishing my morning chores. It has not moved. I sit at a laptop computer for hours and type, but at least I am fulfilling my passion of writing, something I deem worthwhile during my days. What is that spider doing? From my viewpoint, nothing, but at least it seems to be at peace. Maybe it’s tired from lack of food, having been inside a house for who knows how long, and my bedroom is upstairs. If able to contain it without causing harm, I will return it to its natural environment outside, where it can live more authentically, find plenty to eat, and begin that long walk to the distant ocean.
It is amazing how sometimes the simplest things can lead to the most abstract and productive thought, how an insignificant bantam bioform can get the complex brain of a more evolutionarily advanced, yet also insignificant, creature to contemplate the meaning of life. I find myself wishing I could share these thoughts with my temporary roommate, but the little creature has its limitations, just like I do. What was the lone being thinking, I wonder, as I held a ruler up near it when I was determining its size? Surely, there must have been some mindful awareness on its part of my existence.
There is a power of life. The spider and I are both part of it. Through the spider’s eyes and my eyes, life is beholding itself, whatever that life truly is. We are both living on the same planet, under the same sky, and with only a finite number of days coming our way. The spider’s main task in life is simply to remain alive long enough to perpetuate the species, and then it passes on from its body. Interestingly, my task is identical, but with the added benefits, or curses as the case may be, that I need to figure out what life means as I attempt to have an enjoyable time in the process. Unlike the spider however, I tend to indulge past anxieties and fear the future.
From this upstairs window, as I stand with the spider over my head, I gaze out into a surrounding forest of evergreen trees and rhododendron bushes. I can see down into the neighbor’s back yard, which is mostly just dirt devoid of grass now because Ed and Kris acquired a young dog as a pet this past year. The animal had been abandoned, was living in a shelter, and found a new home next to me. During the past year, this dog they named Penny has gone from a wild animal frantically attempting to dig its way out of their fenced yard, into a calm and happy canine who seems to love nothing more than fetching a ball that Ed throws. It is indeed a changed being.
Their former dog passed away from old age. Penny, full of young enthusiasm for life, makes sure her active physical adventures leave no room for the lawn that used to be there. What goes on in Penny’s thoughts? Clearly, this animal thinks, learns, and adapts, as has been very obvious through human observation. The spider also must think, learn, and adapt, but at a different level. The spider likely is not trainable, and would not make a comforting pet. We do not assign names to spiders as we do dogs. How does Penny see life? Does she just accept that which is? This must be the case because she has little if any choice regarding her living situation. It appears that she lives wholly in the present moment, does not slip into depression contemplating her former life circumstances, and is not the least bit aware of future moments in time. She loves to take the early morning walk with Ed to the post office each day. Penny lives life right now, in a refreshingly pure manner.
Penny, just like me, had no control over her entrance into the journey of life. She simply appeared as a little puppy one day, totally oblivious to the how and why this happened – again just like me, and of course, just like you. The mind in the head of Penny thinks independently of the minds in the heads of other dogs, and certainly quite differently than the mind in the head of the spider. The mind in my head is typically considered far more advanced, as it allows me to ponder abstractions, work with tools, caretake dogs, and type words at a computer for you to read. Complexity of thought leads to a host of internal mental issues, some of which we shall discuss herein.
My window is a gateway into life, it seems. No sooner does my mind begin to wander after musing over Penny, than I notice what looks like a fleck of tan dirt on the window sill next to my right hand. But it moves, so I move my head closer, the bony encasement that houses my sentient brain with which I ponder this stuff, and notice that this piece of dirt isn’t dirt after all. It is alive, a creature so tiny that it is nearly invisible to human eyes. How minuscule the legs must be, and what about the organs of life contained within the body? From my vantage point, a being couldn’t get much smaller, but then I realize that it is composed of atoms and open space itself. Just like me.
I do not even know what this is I am seeing, other than to say that it is alive, clearly full of life that allows it to exist and move here and there in its seemingly limited world. It is possessed by life, just as I am. On some level, it must think and feel, although I am not able to remotely know what goes on in its mind. What is the purpose of this midget creature? Why does it exist? What does it do every day. Does it sleep at night? Can it dream? Penny dreams. I dream. Do spiders and living specks of dirt dream? It certainly has no idea that it is on the window sill of a human house, and that I am standing next to it, thinking about what it might be thinking about.
Like with the spider above me, my fleeting anti-bug instinct tells me to end its life. I could simply squash it with my thumb, and no other human would think me a murderer. It would have no idea, as I lowered my thumb over it, that it was about to die. In an instant, its thoughts, whatever they may be, would cease, right along with the power of life that articulates its unique body. Why would I choose to take a hostile stance against this bioform that is a member of the same life power as myself? Is it hurting me? Does it pose a threat to the power of life within me? Am I superior because of my immense relative size and my ability to look down upon it, as a deity might with humans? I chose not to attack, to live and let live. I evolve.
Through the glass I also observe flowering plants, and am delighted in their beauty, the delicate splashes of color they seem to paint throughout my natural world, almost as if they exist for my sole viewing pleasure. I see bees flying from flower to flower, bush to bush, busily collecting pollen. The bees are not admiring the beauty of these plants, at least I do not think so, but rather are working diligently at a task much like humans work at a job. The bees are using the plant for their purposes of gathering pollen for use in their hive, and the plants are using the bees for their mobility, which allows the immobile plants to spread their seeds and reproduce their species. It is an incredibly orchestrated symbiosis that has existed since before the time of humans.
Yet still, my sentient thoughts tell me that I am superior to these lower life forms because of all my unique capabilities compared to them. This disease of self importance that afflicts me, this malady that tells me consciousness is so superior and therefore puts me on a higher level than plants, bees, dogs, spiders, and living specks of dirt, comes of course from … yes, the consciousness itself! This illness is a self serving loop of no true value, dooming me to an ailing state of perpetual arrogance unless I diagnose and treat it. These other living bioforms have no abstract notions of superiority as I do, and in fact, they have evolved complex life strategies that are at least equally effective at perpetuating their species without all the hassles known to humans. Pondering further, I wonder if their evolutionary pasts are actually the superior ones, as they are not the life forms mindlessly destroying the air and environment of their Earthly home. I must evolve further.
But then, how do I address such bioforms as mold, mildew, and mosquitoes? What about plants categorized as weeds? Is there a line that I draw somewhere in all this life preservation ideology? Are answers possible?
I have an insatiable thirst for reading for knowledge, for aspects of life that might enhance my personal understanding of what is going on in my world and how I am part. For me, the popular saying “so many books, so little time” describes my brain’s need to know. There is so much to know that I devote no time to the reading of fiction. Anyway, somewhere once in the millions of words and untold thousands of pages that have passed before my formerly brown but now green eyes, I read that the adult human body contains as many living parasitic organisms in and on it as the human population of Planet Earth. The thought could make many people squirm.
This makes me a vast universe in and of myself. All of those microscopic bioforms, whether they exist on my skin, in my nose, or elsewhere deep within this inner cosmos, depend on that which is me for their temporal existence. I am not even aware of them unless I read about them or find myself afflicted by some anomalous condition brought about by their presence. They probably have no thinking awareness of me either, just happily going along doing whatever it is bizarre little microscopic organisms do during their brief time of life. Most are benign, and we live daily in a symbiotic relationship of pure biologic bliss – talk about the notion of life being all one.
Outside my window, beyond the spider, speck of dirt, and a very content Penny, stand hundreds of evergreen trees, rhododendron bushes, blackberry patches, and other usually green living things that are not considered sentient. In the mornings, this seemingly chaotic assemblage of lush vegetation is covered in tiny water droplets, what we call dew, a condition of atmospheric wonder. As the sun begins to shine, the water evaporates, part of the hydrologic cycle of life. Nearly every day, these flora dance with an invisible partner known as wind, air molecules moving rapidly through the branches. There is a peace about watching the flowing movements, and a wonder seeing offspring of the existing trees and bushes sprouting from the ground.
Surrounding and above all this lush greenery is the air and sky, sometimes cobalt blue and pleasingly warm with bright sun, other times steel gray and uncomfortably cool with dark clouds. On occasion, when the clouds become dense and sufficiently full of moisture, I hear the deep resonating thunder when a storm develops. Bolts of searing white lightning travel between the ground and the clouds. Water falls, often heavily, on our world here. Penny runs for the cover of the neighbor’s rear porch, while indoor spiders and dirt specks may be utterly unaware, yet outdoor bugs are sure to scramble under leaves nearby. The rain nourishes all the life I behold from my upstairs window. The beautiful flowers and plants willingly accept this life giving wetness, and never consider it bad weather as humans usually do. For us all, rain and moisture are life giving.
And similar to the auditory sensations that flow from the heavenly thunders, the presence of the ocean clearly resonates through the glass of my portal to life. The water that covers most of the planet is so colossally huge it creates a deep primal rumble as it moves, so powerfully that it has no problem traveling the mile distance that separates my room from it. This power reminds me of the power of life itself, an unstoppable living essence that exists just past where my little human mind can grasp its significance. Water and air are necessary for my corporeal survival, and the awareness leads me to protect them.
Even farther skyward, past what we know as sky, I peer into a time machine every night that is cloudless. My window is a portal that lets me see into what might be tens, hundreds, or perhaps thousands of years into what we commonly call the past. I do not require a science fiction writer to mentally engage in time travel – it’s right outside my window. Some of the stars that I am seeing may well not exist any more, perhaps exploding eons ago, but the light from those explosions is yet traveling to my eyes. My dad introduced me to this wonder when I was a young lad – a show that nearly any human may view tonight.
Sometimes on days with dense cloud cover, on some schedule that I have never had a need to ponder, I hear another onerous roar in the heavens, but it is not thunder, at least not the natural world variety. Coming through my window panes are forceful air vibrations set in motion by warbirds, human made flying machines designed only to destroy life in order to preserve the freedoms my country so jealously guards. Piloted by young top-gun warriors, these supersonic military jets leave no doubt as to their awesome ability to command the skies. Thus far, my awareness of these training missions shows them to occur during daylight hours when view of the winged vehicles is obscured by thick accumulations of atmospheric moisture.
Thoughts of security rush through me as I am confident that these meticulously trained fighter pilots in their multimillion dollar war jets are there to protect me and this country in which I live from aggression of other nations of people who would reportedly prefer to see us conquered. I can sleep well each night as the blinds are closed over my window, knowing the American war department has all well under control. Along with these thoughts are ones of sadness, as I realize a certain dynamic of life includes the specters of fear, hostility, violence, and death. The sounds of the metal birds are not those of the melodic songbirds I hear daily. One sings peace, the other sings death. The contrast is staggering.
Other sounds resonate through the glass now and then. Not far from the house I currently occupy are a police station and hospital. Ear piercing sirens tell me that something is wrong with the human life story nearby. There has been a heart attack or stroke, and the ambulance is on its way. There has been a horrific automobile accident out on the highway, and the cops are to the rescue. Some unknown incident, probably gravely affecting another sentient life form just like myself, has just occurred, and while my ears hear the wails from the emergency vehicles, my mind usually does not ponder what horrible thing has just happened to someone else. That person is not me, after all, so I blindly continue with my little life and my protective self, independent of the crisis at hand.
Yes, my window is indeed like a portal into life. So much I can know from outside and inside its framework, if I only allow my mind to become aware of it. Like you and most people, most of the time I pay no attention to what would be considered trivial aspects of mundane existence, busying myself with the task at hand at any given time, taking life for granted, on a level of mindless unconsciousness. I see myself as separate from it all, and my self does its best to protect me from the slings and arrows that abound.
Eventually, even a lone writer like myself must leave the little room behind my window, and venture out into the world. Perhaps I spend too much time thinking about what I’m thinking about and trying to discover answers to everything. I suppose that is the impetus behind my need to get out and take cross country trips occasionally on my human powered recumbent tricycle, where I see life differently. But before my next odyssey, I will offer up a few more ideological abstractions to tease your curiosity. Welcome to my mind …
I currently am a human who lives on Planet Earth. I had no choice about me. I just was. I still am. I only know about my arrival here because I was told about it. I have no memory of my earliest beginnings, as the brain in my head was not yet functioning at a level necessary for long term recall. I cannot differentiate which of my earliest memories were the first, or even identify when they occurred, other than to say that information storage for later retrieval began sometime prior to beginning Kindergarten school, which was allegedly before my celebration of passing life’s fifth year.
Based on what I’ve learned during my life, I live on the third planet from a star my society calls the sun, along with nearly seven billion other humans similar to myself in physical construction. It seems humans have serious doubts about being human because apparently everyone is always trying to solve the mystery of an eternal question, namely: Who am I? For much of my life, it seemed like a rather silly question. Of course I knew who I was. I had a name. I had an identifiable body. I had a reason to live and goals to achieve. Who am I? How bizarre that anyone would not know. Lately however, a seemingly similar question has been dancing with me.
It seemed possible that asking who I am was the wrong question. The question I found needed an answer was different, even though it sounded the same on the surface. What am I? Not who. Who is based on my own thoughts and interpretations. What is grounded in reality that may actually lead to usable knowledge. But why even ask what I am? I already knew that too, or so I thought. I am a single person, a body with a thinking brain. I am separate from every other person out there, from all the animals that share this planet, and from the trees and other bioforms. Obviously, I had no connection whatsoever to a rock. My body must have food and water to survive, so I feed it. I breathe air automatically. The body sleeps at night, and dreams alternate realities. After about 78 years, according to current norm-based evidence and statistics, my body will die. I will die. Who and what at I am will no longer exist – gone forever.
Of course, such realizations tend to unsettle the mind, and I suspect, based on the entirety of my life observations, that this leads to extensive panic in a high percentage of my species, which then leads to the implementation of strategies designed to disguise the inevitable. These decades of existence seem to sluggishly accumulate when we are young, and people wish they would get older so they could do the things they see the cool adults doing, but it isn’t long before time seems to irrevocably speed up, to a point where people would do anything to slow it down again. I really don’t want this to end. I enjoy it here. Could fear of death lead to greater enlightenment?
This fear wasn’t always there. It seemed to hit around age 50, roughly 18,243 days into my physical journey. Perhaps this was because I realized that I may have fewer days ahead of me than those I have already experienced. It’s a turning point, a time of reckoning having begun in the brain. Animals don’t seem to have this problem. The little brown spider certainly does not ruminate about such things. Maybe they are the lucky ones. I guess their brains are unable to contemplate an ending to life. But how would I know what an animal thinks? How arrogant have I become? I can only guess.
I have been told that the human brain is superior to those of all other species, that we can do things no other species can do. This must be true because only humans have invented such wonderful things as the electric toaster, the toilet, and the car. Incredibly, we have even learned to fly despite a lack of hollow bones or wings. We can do anything given enough time pondering the topic. I am told that the odd day of melding with advanced machines is not very far away, a day when we will have computational devices, nanobots the size of blood cells, circulating within our bodies that will keep us healthy, delay or even cancel death, and provide us with superhuman cognitive abilities. Immortality is near. The human brain is about to conquer even its own demise. I spend time in books and on my computer learning more. Would I participate? Ray Kurzweil will.
Are these things really possible? What about all the untold millions of people who are already deceased? What good will it do them? Why are so many people getting really angry about the prospect of extending life with these technological advances? Don’t they want to live? Maybe they have discovered another way of living forever that they think is the right way. This new way is the wrong way, they may believe. Humans aren’t supposed to tamper with life. At least that’s what I hear a lot of in the news. Maybe death really isn’t that big of a deal.
There are endless unanswered questions and ceaseless debate, being addressed in different ways by different people. The results are wildly divergent, with a narrow and biased worldview being part and parcel in our thoughts. With all our superior human intelligence, there is little accord. We are back to where we began, with basic questions, and we continue to argue and fight. It seems like this advanced brain we possess allows us to muse over truly big questions, but can only supply agonizing uncertainty in return because it cannot achieve closure of its own intellectualizing. The human mind certainly appears to create more problems than it solves. I may have been happier as a spider. The natural world outside my window does not ponder all this. But the spider lacks flannel sheets.
The objective herein is one that may help escort us back into alignment with the power and grandeur of life. This work is dedicated to the seekers of truth, those among us who realize there is no time but the present to discover the reality of the natural world, a realm where fact is more fascinating than fable, where life is more valued than self, and where peace is more precious than gold. Welcome friend.
Your fellow bioform and life traveler,
Steve Greene, Citizen and Student of Life
Planet Earth, 2012 CE, Sentient day 22,329
We do not live Life – Life lives us. Through our awareness, Life explores itself. We are Life’s pathways in the Grand Adventure.
Author in the winter’s wilderness of Earth
Genre: Body, Mind, Spirit: Inspiration & Personal Growth
Amazon Author’s Page:
bioform (at) outlook (dot) com