Sunday, June 5, 2016

Refrigerator hums more beautifully than birdsong today

As I was sitting in meditation this morning: the near constant hum of refrigerator was in contrast to the fervent songs of birds outside doing their mating and communicating. It occurred to me that my refrigerator was more useful to me than their piercing cries, as I closed the window to be more focused within. It was a revelation in that I have usually preferenced the sounds of "nature" (water, wind, birds) over modern culture (machine sounds of various sorts), but that on closer inspection, I might just have well thought the opposite given the respective sound-making entities' function in my daily life. Certainly, the world needs birds and their songs for no other reason than biological diversity and their inherent beauty and worth. However, that humming refrigerator keeps my food fresh for days, saving me from a trip (in my exhaust and noise spewing car) to the coolers at the grocery store every day. To me, today, closing the window on the birds doing their own things, for their own sakes, allowed me to appreciate the refrigerator doing its own thing and me doing mine as well.

On "nature" and ontology

"[A]n aesthetic appreciation of nature, if serious, is necessarily a self-exploration also; for the energies, regularities, contingencies of nature are the...[same] that sustain my own embodied life and my own awareness. Nature may be "other" to us, but we are no less conatural with it. We do not simply look out upon nature as we look at the sea's drama from a safe shore: the shore is no less nature, and so too is the one who looks."

(from article "Trivial and serious in aesthetic appreciation of nature," R.W. Hepburn in the book "Landscape, Natural Beauty, and the Arts," Kemal and Gaskell editors, Cambridge UP 1993, pg. 69)

As John Muir said, "I found that by going out, I was also going in."