Ode for Writing to William Blake

Doesn’t it feel like there should be something magical, some universal ripple the first time you read Blake. In retrospect, it’s not very difficult to understand while those of “his day” might not have taken an appreciation to his work.  Let’s face it, if you’ve read it or enjoyed his prints and art…well, you might say he was a little out there.

That’s not to say we should discount his contribution to the period.  It was prophetic and unique, to say the least.  As I work my way through the wonders of history, especially my current fixation with pre-revolutionary war America it’s hard to believe that he wasn’t older.  But he might not have been the kind of poet you’d want around during the renaissance, so perhaps his life period was well designed.

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve rummaged through his works.  As I do that, I may post a note or two on what they mean to me now some 35 years after I was exposed to them for the first time.  It should be interesting and I am curious.

Science of a Tsunami

After watching one of the first-hand videos of the Tsunami in Japan I
instinctively went to the wiki page to find out more.  It was apparent that
there has been a lot of work, study and mathematical analysis of Tsunami’s;
their power, magnitude and scale.  I wasn’t a math major in school, but I was
able to take some time to study the formula’s and try, at least on some
rudimentary level, to grasp the capabilities of a Tsunami.   Then it occurred to
me, rudimentary is really an adequate description of how much
we understand about nature.  We analyze and study, we probe and prod and yet,
when we witness what can happen in just a few short minutes there is no formula
for the description of such an event.  It is ExE=D.  Where E is equal to emotion
times itself equaling disaster.  Probably not pretty math, but in trying to
grasp these scenes I believe the sensory overload is twice what most humans are
emotionally able to comprehend.

In the near to distant future there will be lessons learned, there will be
all the requisite finger-pointing but in the end we must force ourselves to
remember that we are just passengers on this earth ship.  Sometimes there is no
way to accurately predict what we cannot control.  As humans I know that is,
without a doubt, the most difficult concept for us to grasp.  The earth’s crust
hiccups and we happen to be there to catch it.  I hope places like California
are a little more aware of the imposing danger we have placed upon us.  I’m also
certain some group of environmental activists-antagonists, et al, will use the
fact that it appears the earth’s axis was “adjusted” 10cm to explain even more
terrible things that are or are not happening to the planet.

For now, the people of Japan don’t need analysis, finger-pointing or
scrutiny; they just need help.

Sunday Morning Hike

Every time I head out to take a hike of any length I find myself trying to imagine what it was like 250 years ago when it wasn’t just a hike; it was how you got to…anywhere!

Moving through a wilderness, even one where native Americans had been traveling for centuries was still an undertaking.  Imagine George Washington leaving the relative safety of what was then civilization in Virginia at the age of 17 to survey the unexplored areas to the west.

Or even more incredible was Washington’s journey in 1753.  He left Williamsburg, VA at the direction of then Governor Dinwiddie to go to Fort Le Boeuf, present day Waterford Pennsylvania.  The trip was close to 500 miles, one way!  No planes, trains or automobiles for them; all on horseback. They made the trip in about three weeks.  Then in the very heart of winter had to turn around and head back.  So, they had to average about twenty-five miles a day.  That doesn’t sound like a lot to us today but when you are only able to go three or four miles and hour that’s a long trip in anyone’s book.

Of course, General Braddock’s expedition to take two thousand troops along a twelve-mile road, that they had to clear, through the Appalachian wilderness was probably an even more amazing undertaking and no doubt, spectacle.

Just a thought as I head out.

Taking a Pause

The thought occurs to me that we are all made up of pieces of history.  Now, I’m no molecular biologist or quantum physicist, but I don’t think that conclusion takes that much thinking.  Whether you belong to the church of evolution or creation it is very difficult to deny that we are who we were.  Jump back a mere two hundred years and look at what and who we are.  Granted technology has given us certain advantages previous generations did not have, but at the same time, some of their habits that we cast aside were substitutes for what we are doing in a slightly different way today.
So, what’s the point?  As much as everyone says we should study the past so we don’t repeat it in the future…we still do it!  Modern conflicts around the world speak volumes to the innate inability of humans to learn from their previous mistakes, to get along together and work with each other to do the right thing.
Perhaps it is our passion, our desire for life, our drive to be the best that propels each of us into these sometimes precarious and regrettable situations.
This then begs the questions:  How do we change?  While some will argue that change is impossible and that we are defined as who we are from a very tender age, I would disagree.  I think change comes about when the logical mind realizes and appreciates the gravity of a situation and is able to accurately determine that changing would bring about a better result or situation.  Still it doesn’t seem to happen as often as the simplistic nature of this solution would appear to dictate it should.  And there is the crux of the problem, our passions, our will and the red mist that clouds our logical thinking process gets us almost everytime. We become so emboldened by an idea or the thought of an idea we can’t take a step back and give it that once over that would have us scratch our heads and wonder why we thought this was such a good idea.
Fixing the problem.  I wish it was as simple as telling someone to take a breath, step back and give the issue a moment to cool off, to settle down, to return to normal.  Sadly, we don’t and in the end that is the beauty of the human existence and, ultimately, its peril.
Wanton hubris; it’s one of those phrase you hear so infrequently but just love the way it sounds.  Basically, excessive pride and insolence to everyone else, doesn’t that sound like a majority of the civilized world.  Someone is always being better, doing something better, etc, etc, you get the point.
There is no pill for it, save perhaps a big fat logical lozenge that most of us simply seem unable to swallow.
The prescription for today:  pause, that’s it…just pause.  When you’re ready to flip off that person that cut you off…pause.  When the kids have milk all over the table and floor for the fifteenth time…pause, when you watch the news and it starts to just infuriate you…pause (and change the channel!).
A very popular soda pop, as my granddad used to call them had a wonderful slogan that we should all try to remember today…”the pause that refreshes”.
What will your pause be today?
Good Luck
Rich Witt