Saturday, February 03, 2007
The Nature of Miracles
I love the idea of miracles and wish life to be filled with them: every day an Ebenezer Scrooge transformed into a kindly old man. So I won’t stop using the word, even though some people associate it with supernatural divine intervention. No wonder, if you put it that way, that rationalists protest, “There’s no such thing as miracles”, for if they happened as often as I wish (they do! they do!) and were inexplicable except to theologians, then scientists would have to close their laboratories and be unemployed and . . . hope for a miracle!
But it isn’t like this. To me, a miracle is rapid transformation and it’s miraculous because we’re used to the rhythm of continuity. I'm used to my rut and abhor change. I’ve drawn sustenance from a daily routine of communing with Nature. Free to indulge each passing whim, I’ve not had to worry about earning a living. Work commissions and clients have come to me occasionally, without any effort on my part, so I’ve survived that way. In fact it’s been such a blessed existence that I’ve failed to detect how dependent I’ve been on contingent factors: good health, low expenses, ecstasy that seems to radiate from the open sky.
We cling to habits and fear change, but Nature has its ways to confound our sense of continuity. The caterpillar emerges from the egg and chomps greedily on the first thing it finds. Then it feels strange urges to spin itself a hammock or cocoon. Then it gives in to an overwhelming lethargy, becoming a hardened chrysalis, inert like a seed. Then in due time it wants to wake up and stretch, and feel the insect-blood rushing to its new-found legs and antennae and proboscis and unfurling iridescent wings, ready to start a new life, in which it doesn’t need to eat its own weight daily, but only sip at perfumed nectar like a party animal on cocktails in fancy glasses, and dance in the sunshine and flirt. All this in its old age.
Recently, my routines have been interrupted. Pain brought me to earth, together with a metaphorical rubbing of the eyes and waking from a beautiful dream. How could I have been sustained for a whole year in the same fashion, going out each day with camera, tripod, notebook, dictaphone like Vincent van Gogh with his portable easel in the fields near Arles or Auvers? How could I have been nourished so royally by the scruffy streets of my home town, a solitary loafer never bored and usually inspired?
It’s changing and I’m ready. Ten years ago I left commuting and working nine-to-five and the stresses of IT projects. Some guiding hand lifted me from that routine. With excitement greater than misgivings, I’m poised to return to that pattern of life on Monday.
I went to buy shirts, needing a bigger size that fits an old man’s scraggy neck. Who cares? This is my butterfly phase.
Posted by Vincent at 5:58 am