Today is a day of light and shadow, the clouds moving steadily from north to south across the awakening landscape. The sun is bright, as is fitting April; we have not had this much light since September.
Jennie and I have largely recovered from the flu, although we still need to nap. I, of course, continue to feel deeply fatigued, a predictable result of the confluence of the late effects of Polio and the flu. Still, things seem to be on the upswing and we are glad!
Since I last posted, the maples have deepened in color, and, even in the face of unusual cold, their buds have grown. A lovely red haze now inhabits the landscape.
We continue to occupy that time when spring could erupt full force at any moment, yet seems to waver as if undecided as to when to do so. It is a truly liminal moment. I imagine such times are a lot like the milliseconds prior to the Big Bang, when all was potential. We know from cosmology that stepping across the threshold, a seemingly everyday act, determines the shape of things to come.
I’ve been wondering about Fate and Karma of late. Both imply something arising from initial conditions, and, from one frame of reference, we are each an inevitable outcome of the universe’s initial expansion. (This is Fate and karma at their most essential.)
Fate, I believe, requires a degree of inevitability, and suggests we might best substitute compassion for blame. Karma, on the other hand, too easily becomes a just-so-story about the world, drenched in shame and blame. I think of it as Fate married to a grand colonial gesture, a belief that understands harm as both justified and inevitable. As a concept, Karma, like Fate, gives order to our lives by insisting on the presence of dependable, predictable, even predetermined, outcomes. It is no surprise that those who use Karma as an explanatory system devoid of compassion do not like Kali, the goddess of Nature and chaos, for her very presence underlies the certainty they pursue.
Even as we grapple with the concepts of Fate and karma, it seems many of us suspect there is enough randomness in the world to allow for the unknown and unexpected, that tendency does not equal inevitability. Sometimes, it appears to me, there really is a grand trajectory of cause and effect inherent in our lives and the universe. Then Chaos breaks through, and the thin vernier of predictably shatters.
I suspect that at least some of the magic of story and ritual is their ability to embrace, and bring meaning to, all of it: Fate, karma, and Chaos. Perhaps we humans are indeed hard-wired to find pattern, discover meaning, and make stories. But what if there is no underlying pattern to the world? No matter; we will create meaning from our experiences! We live by making, and telling stories! Fate and Karma are simply powerful stories, good to ponder but dangerous to take too literally.