26 April 2010

Before the Night Takes Us

I step into the damp spring night and see the pale glow of the waxing moon fall into the west; a riddle of stars comes into view above.

My eyes immediately align with the Big Dipper's arc and follow its sweep to the star Arcturus. From there, I continue on to Spica (follow the arc to Arcturus and speed on to Spica) and this jumble of far away lights - so familiar and at the same time, so completely remote - now makes sense. Like a road map set straight.  Where to find myself within it all is another question.

The frogs are probably too busy singing to see any stars, let alone wonder how they fit in. If you listen long enough, their drunken, wave-like croaking will hypnotize you.  A sleepy chorus of lullabies. Like the crickets.

Someone once sent me a recording of crickets that had been slowed down enough to correspond to the length of a human life span. The result was a mesmerizing concert of human-like voices; ethereal, and rich with texture and crescendos. You could even hear what sounded like stand-out soloists, prima donnas of the insect world singing love songs to the cosmos.

I wonder what the frogs would sound like slowed down.

Hey, d'ya hear the one about the frog who walks into a bar...?

But these frogs live in the deep countryside, tucked away into those hidden folds between fertile green fields of wheat and corn, where you can still see hawks circling high on a summer thermal; where deer frolic in the pre-dawn mist; where it's still possible to spot a burly wild boar turning up soil with its snout and ivory tusks that curl back on themselves; where jack rabbit and fox and wild pheasant criss-cross through tall grass.

There's an expression we can hear in these parts by some of the elder folk, the paysans who were reared in this country. At the end of a day, probably a long, hard day of work in the fields, as the frogs and crickets and heavens above take the stage for the evening, when darkness begins to overtake the light, you can sometimes hear someone say:

"Let's go in before the night takes us."

These hardy folk surely aren't afraid of anything 'out there', so maybe this is just their way of saying My back's tired or Let's go eat or It's Miller time.

But what if the night did take us? Where would we go?  Would we be whisked up into the sky and then sent riding those celestial chutes from one star system to another?  Or would we simply disappear, go up in a puff of smoke, and be gone?

I remember that the word nirvana comes from the sanskrit, meaning extinguished; the most exalted state of wisdom, compassion, freedom from all attachment.

Bring it on, I say. I'm ready.

Who would've though that finding oneself could be as easy as letting the night take you.

No comments: