Autumn, a season not too far off in the future, makes its presence known early in northern regions. On this mid-September day I watch leaves falling from trees under a steady gentle breeze. First a single leaf drops from a red maple. The green leaf has tinges of crinsom around the entire perimeter of the leaf. It falls almost immediately to the ground with very little fanfare as if directed by intention. Another leaf falls from a nearby basswood tree. The leaf is broad and the surface of this large leaf remains parallel with the ground to which it falls. This leaf floats through space, resisting gravity, as it see-saws back and forth perusing the landscape for a proper resting point. Ultimately gravity emerges victorious, as it always seems to do, bringing the bass wood leaf to earth where all life on this planet begins.
Gravity is a difficult concept to master. It is much more complicated than originally thought and has far reaching implications that go beyond common sense. Sir Isaac Newton, a genius of the late 17th and early 18th centuries, was one among the first to seek understanding about gravity. His mathematical brilliance provided the proof for Newton’s Laws of Gravity. Centuries later Albert Einstein, one of the great minds of the twentieth century, took this understanding to an entirely different level. Einstein believed that gravity is a force with great character. In his theory of general relativity he proposed that gravity was a property of space-time geometry. In this four dimensional world objects traveling in a curved universe eventually meet. Newton believed that gravity makes objects leave their straight paths. Einstein proposed in his theory of general relativity that gravity is a distortion of space and time.
As I consider this I wonder about the dreams and thoughts that these two men, both geniuses, might have had. Some of their dreams, with years of scientific and mathematical angling, proved true; at least within the context of current understanding. While other dreams and thoughts must have been dashed. Slaughtered by the gravity of knowledge and proof that brings many “higher” thoughts back to earth. I picture random thoughts in the form of scientific formulas floating downward in the sky sinking beneath the clouds. They land gently on the earth and dissolve into the pervious soils and become absorbed into human history that will forever be forgotten.
A steadfast wind on this day continues to blow. Acorns drop haphazardly from a nearby red oak. With a meaningful thud they announce their return to earth. The powers of weather and time will eventually weaken the shell and allow the embryo to emerge. Only a great deal of luck will let this tiny oak grow past infancy to adulthood. It must survive the elements, predators, and accidents for a decade before it has a decent chance to grow into a tree. All the while defying gravity, elevating itself towards the sky in search of sunlight. A mighty task to understand. A major victory to witness.
Hope is much like the embryo in the acorn. In my life I have had some hopes grow into beautiful realizations and others fall to the weight of the universe. I wished for and found life long love and family. I wanted to find peace and wandered into the natural world where I located a quiet place to live out my days. I wanted wisdom and discovered that this planet holds all that I could possibly fathom if I just opened up my heart and let the lessons find their way in. On the other hand I desired to live in an age when humans would learn that we must nurture the planet rather than plunder her resources. Evidently this was terribly unrealistic. I, more than anything else, wanted to live a day when peace would prevail. We could not be any further from this wish than we now are. I hoped, beyond realistic hope, that the human race would finally understand that our planet is one living organism; each part, living and not living, an integral part of the whole. Humans still act as they are separate and superior to the planet. They act like masters over a foreign domain. This is simply not sustainable. The gravity of the heavens will eventually bring this thinking to an end if we do not awaken ourselves and correct our course of action.
I look to the skies and see a red tail hawk catching warm air currents that help in rise into the sky. It circles and circles, only flapping its wings occasionally. This wonderful raptor has found a nearly effortless way to resist the forces of nature. There is no question that eventually this predator of the skies will glide down back to earth but only under its own terms and with a determination and desire to find food or shelter. This simple and elegant display of working with the elements of this planet is warming and inspirational. A lesson of the natural world that is present for all to behold.
The clouds to the west indicate rain will soon fall. They are dark and thick. Despite the way they appear they mean no harm. The warm days have evaporated water, perhaps off of the Great Lakes to our west, and this water will return to the earth. The clouds will become so dense with moisture that they will not be able to carry the weight of the water. Rain will fall to the earth and feed thirsty trees, plants, animals, and soil. Some of the water may be stored for some time in the earth where it will provide a life-force necessary for the maintenance of the living on this planet. The water will cleanse the planet and the spirits of the living. Sunny days will return and start the cyclical process all over again. A circle never ending.
These days when the climatic elements have been so harsh I relish bright sunny days. There is still much left to be done. I will spend part of each day thanking this planet for all of my wonderful days. I will still hope for wisdom, peace, and understanding. I know that not all of our wishes can come true. Perhaps Gaia has a more sophisticated plan. Perhaps it includes the human race, perhaps it does not. At the end of my days when my body returns to the warm earth I pray that my spirit will soar up into the heavens in search of the sun. I hope that my spirit will blend with time and space and the sweeping circles of four dimensions to find another spirit with which it can intertwine. And most of all I trust that gravity will allow this union to gently float back to earth, like a basswood leaf falling on a sweet autumn day, where I can begin all over again.
Written for www.wildramblings.com in September of 2011.