Isolations of Space and Time

V. Balance

On a weekend drive, touring the lakes region of New Hampshire, I was approached by a resident offering help with directions. Our conversation was telling. In just a few minutes he conveyed the essential character of Pine River Pond – that it was dammed, privately owned, the water free from invasive species, the houses mostly four-season and generational, the community close and tight. All manner of fences – spatial, economic, procedural, cultural – are in place to preserve what is. The only thing that changes on Pine River Pond is the temperature.

In such change-phobic interventional frames equilibrium and stasis are presumed goods, present time is the preferred ecological moment, and evolution is debated in an ethical context – good flora/bad flora, good fauna/bad fauna (ourselves included). Benefits like alteration, variation, transformation are limited, even to the point of exclusion. What creative opportunities are lost?

Buddhist and Vedic philosophies regard ideal participation in the ongoing creation of the world very differently. For Buddhists, change as a constant is axiomatic, and passive non-intervention essential to acceptance of the Karmic flux and our inability to see the bigger picture.The Veda center instead on a transcendent understanding of the entropic nature of cosmic change: We are always putting back together that which is always falling apart. Inherent in both traditions is the acknowledgement and acceptance of temporal frames that seemingly contradict our own.

Many aboriginal philosophies and ways of living emphasize symbiosis and greater contexts, too, in contrast with Western practices of control, dominance and exploitation–of the human and non-human world. The non-linear rate of technological advance makes revaluation of our relationship to time an imperative.

Perhaps here begins the idea that we can – must – reconcile ourselves to mortality, to extinction, to the end of the world itself. We must balance change and stasis differently, to allow for generative, constructive forces larger than ourselves, in contexts greater than our own. As we go on. A new equilibrium, if you will – one of change, outside our frame.

What it comes down to is this:
You are not that important.
You are all that matters.

Can we hold these thoughts together in our minds? Can they together guide policy, philosophy, everyday decisions?

Ecology is a science of stasis, Geography a science of moments.
Music and cookery are endlessly inventive practices.
Language is evolutionary.


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