Like many other bloggers, I often wonder, “Why am I doing this?” It seems so foolish and even vain in some sense; for, “Who am I” to be holding forth as if he has anything to offer? It is, in a sense, an exercise in humility as I “put myself out there” when I post something. I have fortunate to have a very nice response from very interesting, thoughtful, “mindful” people from all corners of the world. I now feel a real connection with some of these people as we have engaged in dialogue from time to time, exchanged emails on occasion, teased and chided each other, and shared reading lists.
I do think the “mindfulness” is one of the key things that I seek now in the whole of my life, in real time and also here in the blog-o-sphere. And by this term, I do not mean merely intelligence…you can find that anywhere…but I mean a “presence” in their intellect which reflects a self-reflectiveness and sensitivity to their own subjective world and that of others. This quality reflects an “aliveness” that is so often not present in our modern, machine-produced world. This brings to mind a wonderful poem by Robert Frost which I will share shortly in which he studied an insect on a white sheet of paper and used its “antsy” behavior to poetically approach “mindfulness.”
And mindfulness is very much related to another primary motivation in my blogging—connection. I am fortunate to be well connected in my social circle and community, “well” in that I have meaningful friends and relationships. But, I am discovering that in this respect, and so many areas of life, I want more! I am discovering a hunger in my heart right now for the whole of life, a significant part of which is connection with other people and the natural world. And so I toss these words out into the void, always curious to see who if anyone will respond and what they will have to say in response; and, what are they offering on their own blog. I have noted before that, “Winds of thought blow magniloquent meanings betwixt me and thee,” (Archibald Macleish) and it is the “meaningfulness” that provides the sense of connection. For, with words, we can evoke a resonance in the heart of other like-minded souls and allow a reciprocal evocation in our own heart. This is what takes place when two, or more, people “wrestle with words and meanings” (T. S. Eliot)
And note what Shakespeare said about the power of words.
If the dull substance of my flesh were thought,
Injurious distance should not stop my way;
For then despite of space I would be brought,
From limits far remote where thou dost stay.
He saw words as sublimated “flesh” and implied that if the whole of his body could be “sublimated”, he would be conveyed across distance into the presence of his beloved. Now, of course, he was not being literal; but, he was noting the power of thought and words to “carry us” beyond the “small bright circle of our own consciousness” (Conrad Aiken) and reach a hand across the abyss that separates all of us. But, for this to take place, these words must be “meaningful” and not merely palaver. This means dialogical engagement which exposes us to different ways of seeing the world thus broadening our own world view. In most people this is discouraged in favor of merely regurgitating “well worn words and ready phrases that build comfortable walls against the wilderness.” (Conrad Aiken) This brings to mind the pithy observation of T.S. Eliot regarding a family that was locked into a closed verbal world, describing them as, “Too strange to one another for misunderstanding.”
A Considerable Speck
A speck that would have been beneath my sight
On any but a paper sheet so white
Set off across what I had written there.
And I had idly poised my pen in air
To stop it with a period of ink
When something strange about it made me think,
This was no dust speck by my breathing blown,
But unmistakably a living mite
With inclinations it could call its own.
It paused as with suspicion of my pen,
And then came racing wildly on again
To where my manuscript was not yet dry;
Then paused again and either drank or smelt–
With loathing, for again it turned to fly.
Plainly with an intelligence I dealt.
It seemed too tiny to have room for feet,
Yet must have had a set of them complete
To express how much it didn’t want to die.
It ran with terror and with cunning crept.
It faltered: I could see it hesitate;
Then in the middle of the open sheet
Cower down in desperation to accept
Whatever I accorded it of fate.
I have none of the tenderer-than-thou
Collectivistic regimenting love
With which the modern world is being swept.
But this poor microscopic item now!
Since it was nothing I knew evil of
I let it lie there till I hope it slept.
I have a mind myself and recognize
Mind when I meet with it in any guise
No one can know how glad I am to find
On any sheet the least display of mind.