Unnatural Borders

annapurna_ii__himalayas_nepaltectonic platesI have often thought about and expressed my opinion that our man-made borders are unnatural, or falsehoods, or near-sighted.  Think for a moment about all the countries throughout the world that divide seven billion people into sub-groups.  Indeed, in the distant past, isolated cultures and countries were the seeds to variation and diversity.  This was good.  Variety is beautiful.  But, we are becoming through technology, economics, and politics, more homogeneous.  We are becoming more and more dependent on each other.  There are fewer resources like fertile land, fresh water, clean air, and employment opportunities to care for seven billion people.  And, our technology has the potential to wipe us off the map if we make some poor decisions.

EarthI often look to the inanimate for clues as to how we might approach thinking about our existence with one another.  My first thought is plate tectonics — might it make more sense for us to form borders along the earth’s moving plates?  We would have to merge several countries to adhere to the earth’s natural borders.  Of course, this is also a bit near-sighted.  If we rise above the earth, we will see that earth’s plates really become less significant.  The environment outside our earth is a cold, dark, and unforgiving place.  If we thought more consciously or unconsciously on the cosmic level, as a species, we would be far wiser in our approach as to how to construct our momentum to ensure not only our survival, but also our quality of life.  There are no separate oceans — all ocean water circulates through the currents and becomes one.  The wind and air circulates around the entire planet.  The rivers flow to the sea…the sun heats the sea…clouds form and circulate with the winds…the rain replenishes the rivers.  There are no separate continents.  All are in motion.  They separate…they collide…they are never static…they are never the same.  Change and borderlessness is an inanimate truth that we should consider when contemplating the fruitfulness of our joint future momentum.

Attraction to Natural Disasters

Cascade VolcanoesI may offend or disturb some people, but that really isn’t my intention.  I have always found natural disasters to be terrifying, but also exciting and enlightening — an awakening from an unconscious state to an intense short-lived glimpse into reality.  I have experienced several large earthquakes when I lived in California as well as some violent storms when I resided in Florida.  I was terrified, of course, but I also felt like the events had shaken me from a long drowsy state of being that tends to assume our planet is a peaceful place built just for us.

Mt. Saint HelensNatural disasters, whether it be an earthquake, a tsunami, a hurricane, a tornado, or a volcanic eruption, reminds us that the planet and the universe is a very chaotic, powerful enigma that continually changes without regard to our existence.  Although we have five senses and we have learned a great deal about the nature of the earth and the universe at large, we rarely comprehend what it means.  We can’t feel or sense the huge chunks of continents we are standing on move…they are all moving right now.  We can’t feel the intense heat at the center of the earth that is driving these continents to move.  We can’t feel the earth free-falling through space at hundreds of thousands of miles per hour.  We can’t comprehend the enormity and complexity of forces that combine to form a massive energetic hurricane.

Mt. St. Helens ErruptionThe forces of the earth and the universe are obscure to our senses and work on a much grander time scale compared to our internal and man-made clock.  We are insulated from what is really going on all around us.  It is only now and again, through the terror of a natural disaster, that we get a sense or a glimpse into the power of creation and its counterpart, destruction.  One of my favorite photographic subjects in the Northwest is the Cascade volcanoes — Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt. Saint Helens, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Baker.    These land forms are so impressive relative to the surrounding landscape — they stand out like alien beacons to signal that there is something mysterious at work…a secret…a gateway to comprehending reality.  They provide so much majestic beauty — from the towering glaciated peaks, down through the abundant pines, rush rivers that fill up lakes or replenish the ocean.  So much wildlife thrives around these imposing giants — yet in an instant, these masses of swelling rock and ice can violently explode and wipe out everything around the perimeter.  Incredible powers of creation and destruction, a process that repeats over and over again on earth and throughout the universe — this is a piece of reality.

A Piece of Truth — Unmasked

Mother Earth falling and twirling

Through bottomless cold dark

She roars and burns deep down inside

Heat equal to the sun’s surface layer

Her latent power masked

Man’s time clock irrelevant

His misguided senses deceived

Slowly she moves massive blocks of land

Larger than continents

Thicker than the peak height of jets

Millimeter by millimeter her burning heart

Transforms the landscape before us

Titanic beasts collide

Arching up to airless heights

Ocean trenches deeper than Hell

Slowly swallow and burn granite mass

Immense bulges slowly rise

Dwarfing all that surrounds

Deep ocean shrouds below

Fire breathing behemoths

Man goes about his busyness

Unaware of this sample Truth

Until she takes off her mask

And the world throws him around

Like a rag doll

Demolishes his feeble structures

Burns and buries his existence

In hot ash

Drowns him on land

With an uncaring sea

He finally gains a small glimpse

Into reality

But quickly forgets

And returns to his busyness