I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Daffodils and blooming trees

Steve's photo taken on Western's campus

 Yesterday, my friend Steve and I walked from the coffee shop up to the Arboretum lookout on Western Washington University's campus. Although I was there a few weeks ago with the Senior Trailblazers, we went a different route and I seem to have forgotten quickly just how steep it is to climb to the lookout. Or perhaps my legs are not quite recovered from Thursday's ascent and descent on the Chanterelle trail. I keep forgetting that I am not young anymore and think I can do whatever I put my mind to. Still. Sometimes I just need to rest more and slow down a little, but I forget.

When I set out from home, I checked the weather and it told me there was no rain expected, so I didn't take a raincoat. Big mistake. You'd think that someone who has an entire closet full of different raincoats would take one, just in case. When we were on our way up the trail to the Arboretum, it began to rain. And it didn't stop for the rest of the duration of our walk. The funny thing is, I didn't really mind the rain and kept smiling and enjoying being outdoors in nature. It helps to have a good friend along who is willing to lend an arm and tell some good stories as we walk.

In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours. —Mark Twain

I just re-read an article in the New York Times about a new discovery in cosmology: that dark energy, which makes up around 70% of the Universe, may have different properties than previously understood. The term "dark energy" relates to this odd substance that doesn't act like anything else, and since it doesn't emit light, we cannot see it. But there are some ideas about it:

The only real answer to the question "what is dark energy?" currently is "we don't know" as unsatisfactory as that may be. Scientists aren't completely in the dark, however. There are some leading candidates to account for dark energy. These include the vacuum energy of space  —  particles literally popping in and out of existence in empty space — and a "fifth force" responsible for the negative pressure that might cause the accelerated expansion of the universe.  (Space.com)

You might need to have a subscription to the NYT to read the first article, but in looking around I found Space.com that has lots of explanations about the cosmos that I didn't already know about, and it's free. It's so fascinating to me to consider that we know so little about the Universe, which is, of course, everything. If I had my life to live over again, I think I might have wanted to become an astrophysicist, since that whole area of astronomy has always drawn me in. It's the reason I've always loved to read science fiction, since it provides so much fodder for my imagination. 

We live in a time when we can learn just about anything we want to know by opening our laptop and asking Google to point us in a direction to learn more about anything that appeals to us. I'm one of those people who uses Wikipedia often enough that I feel I should help pay for it, so I do. Modestly, of course, but still.

View of Bellingham from the lookout

Finally, I think I have figured out why I am such a fan of routine. I don't want to believe that things change over time, and that if I do the same things every morning, and that every afternoon has its own pattern, I'm simply repeating one day after the next, and somehow I can keep in my own groove and continue on like this for the foreseeable future. But it doesn't work that way, does it? Every breath is its own, every dawn comes after the long night and does its own thing. The days come and go, the weeks and months slide by without much difference, but when I look around at the blooming trees and burgeoning leaves, I know that spring is here, and summer is not far behind. Life flows and changes constantly.

I am also reminded that I didn't wake up one day with white hair. Very gradually my light brown hair changed, one strand at a time, to become a colorless silver. I've certainly used my body over the years, some might say abused, but it's held up pretty well. I can still walk and even run a little, if necessary, and I am grateful for all that still is within my reach. But there's that word again, "still."

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man. There is nothing permanent except change. —Heraclitus

Heraclitus lived around 2,500 years ago, wasn't very old when he died, and only wrote one little book, which didn't survive the passage of time, but many quotes from it still exist. I knew of Heraclitus as an ancient Greek philosopher, but not much more. But few have not heard that phrase about impermanence, I think. 

When I ponder the immensity of the Universe, much of which we know nothing about, and then I think about someone like Heraclitus, who graced this planet for a short while thousands of years ago, I am quite sure that he is right: nothing is permanent except change. Nothing in our power can change that, nor would we even want to. I will continue to watch my breath, appreciate the burgeoning springtime, and keep on enjoying the procession of the seasons and the gentle rain that continues to fall. Why not? What else do I have to accomplish while time passes?

And that, my friends, is the foam that arises from my brain on this early Sunday morning. It won't be around in a thousand years, I assure you, so I'm not trying to create a philosophy or even much of a worldview, just fulfilling my self-imposed duty of a weekly post before getting up from my bed and starting my day. My dear partner still (that word again) sleeps quietly next to me, the tea is long gone, and it's time to sign off and continue the cycle that repeats... until it doesn't any more. I do hope the coming week will be a good one for you, and that you will find yourself smiling often. Until we meet again, I wish you all good things, dear friends. Be well.


Barbara Rogers said...

Very thoughtful post today, thanks! I read Barry Stevens' book "Don't Push the River" back in the 70s, which is out of print I'm sure, and I don't even have a copy anymore. But the communities she had lived in brought some fun and intense concepts to my attention. Gestalt therapy, time travel, following rules vs following conventions, and certainly paying attention to where we are right now. This certainly is a season of changes. Maybe much more than just springtime!

Anvilcloud said...

I am one of those people who is not graying the way that most people do. Even the parts that are gray are not white although spots in my beard come close.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Heres to a wonderful week all filled with Spring things and happy thoughts!

Linda Reeder said...

I like your use of the word "burgeoning". I have been using "emerging" for early spring, but now spring is definitely burgeoning, busting forth with abandon. I love it.
While I like routine, and depend on a certain order and rotation, often I just want to break out and do something different, have an adventure. You do have plenty of adventures, with your hiking.
This week we will go to Whidbey Island for a short stay, and on one of those days, one hopefully without rain, we will drive to the Skagit Valley to see the tulips and visit one of our favorite nurseries. My mobility continues to worsen, but I will do what I need to do to go where I want to go. I will persist.
Have fun in your north country.

Elephant's Child said...

I really like routine too and now you have me wondering why. I will give it some thought as I go about my day.
Thank you (again) for this thoughtful and inspiring post.
Have a wonderful week.

Marie Smith said...

Routine keeps me going. My husband, who has OCD, must have routine if possible. A required change is always met with questions but he will adapt.

Have a great week, Jan!

Red said...

Black energy? I've never heard of it. I must have spent my whole life under something. Speaking of spring and differences. Every spring is different when it comes to precipitation, sunshine, temperature and everything else.

Rita said...

You got me thinking. I have always loved variety too much to be a creature of much routine. Yes, I have some, of course, but even those are not at the same time every day or on the same days of the week--lol! You'd think my days would all be the same when I have been housebound for so many years, but they are always a little different. Much more uniform since all the cancer stuff knocked me off my feet for a couple of years--but even when all I could do was watch shows and videos--I had to switch up the types of things I watched so I would have variety. Even when I write letters I switch up the colors of ink and the paper and pens I use. When I could do so little--one day I would do a task in the morning and another day in the evening. Variety keeps life interesting and brings me joy.

And yet I have all these little habits. Where I keep things. How I use things. In many ways--little ways--I am a creature of habit, too. Yup--interesting pondering today.

I like science fiction, too. :) Have a great week.

John's Island said...

“If I had my life to live over again, I think I might have wanted to become an astrophysicist, since that whole area of astronomy has always drawn me in.” Speaking as one who loves astronomy to another, don’t forget the total solar eclipse tomorrow. Fortunately for those of us so far out of the path of totality, it will be on TV and is being streamed by NASA. I’m planning to start watching around 11AM. Thanks for another fine edition of Eye on the Edge. John

gigi-hawaii said...

I attended a lecture by an astronomy professor at UH. She said Earth was formed 14 billion years ago with just a molecule of ice. True? Who really knows.

Barwitzki said...

Oh yes, I'm grateful for the opportunity to get all the information. My favorite is Wikipedia, yes you said it,
definitely support.
And I love YouTube videos where we can learn things...
be it language or craftsmanship. In addition, we can choose films at any time.
We live in good times.
Much more gratitude and humility would be appropriate.
Use and implement the positive.

Rian said...

Hi DJan! I'm late commenting here due to company here for the total eclipse... which I must say affected me more than I expected. It feels like I saw something and experienced something that changed me. Can't explain that.
Your post hit on a few things that made me think. First of all, I too have to remind myself that I'm not young anymore and must take things a little slower. As for my hair, it did actually go white 'almost' overnight after radiation.
And I too am fascinated with anything science. I feel that although there is always some danger involved in the exploding science and technology, it's also extremely important for mankind to go forward. Wishing you a great week and sending you virtual hugs!