Now to describe a phenomenon that’s so insane that it merits a thousand words. I want to talk about the lights of cities. I know we accept them as normal part of modern life, but there was a time when we lived quite well without them.
In short, city lights are mankind’s tragic attempt to replicate stars. You can tell, in part, because they appear only at the very bottom of the night sky, about as high as we’ve figured out how to reach with ladders and cranes. As magnificent as they may seem, if we consider their impact on humanity, they’re essentially what’s left at the bottom of a French press, once the coffee is poured out: mildly useful for those with drooping standards. And not fresh.
Although mankind has gone the direction of implementing an overall war against night (a silly thing to do), I don’t want to imply that we’re thoughtless. Making pseudo-starry cities wasn’t our idea, after all. Remember, we were quite content with darkness at first, when humankind was younger. Night was akin to death, it's true, but we were comfortable with that condition because we had observed that death brought new life. Moreover, we had observed that, as helpful as it was to have sunlight for gathering fruit and ascertaining danger, the sun might burn one’s skin. The sun, we found, might also blind us. Daytime, even for those who went before, was generally busy, assiduous, care-worn, and noisy with need.
But in the quiet night, our ancestors saw the playful colors return to their cribs and sleep, guarded by the grays and indigos who crept wisely from the forests, sliding from the deepest oceanic caverns and terrestrial caves to escort the colors home. Colors to bed, the mind of humankind was able to hear smaller voices. Those of introspection. The voices of compassion. Whispers of peace. The Moon might smile, grandmotherly and kind, but she was never harsh. Instead, she was and is the visual equivalent of a plate of freshly baked cookies on a red-checked tablecloth. She could be stared at, watched. And in the nighttime, the Earth also wearily sighed; for the chores of granting wishes for her human children, those tucked in by the night sky, anyway, were complete. At least for a few hours.
There was peace in this process. Life, death, light, night. It served us like wisdom always does when we allow it to do so. It might have continued indefinitely, had an idea not been floated to us.
As I said, the idea to light the night did not come from man. It came from a Force that was jealous. Calling itself “The Great Distraction,” it had seen people looking up at the dark sky and the celestial stars smiling down messages of a different kind of light that that found in the daytime. These lit the hearts of the people in softer ways, with less volume. They were still messages from the Sun, of course. After all, the Sun lights the stars, too. But the Star People filtered the solar roar for us. Their pillowed voices gave us peace, allowed us rest and gave voice to the smallest cries within each of us. And he, the Great Distraction, was sick of it.
“No more,” he thought to himself. “Enough is enough.”
“Hey, Man,” he hissed to us from the East, which is the Source of both morning light and evening darkness, “I have an idea. I have something better. Something that will extend the daytime and,” here he paused, searching for words, “you can get… more… done.”
Its desires had nothing to do with productivity. Not really. The idea came solely as a way to get humankind to gag the voices of the Star People, to silence their whispering wisdom. It had not the courage to silence them by Itself. The Sun Father would never allow it, either. But the human children of the Sun, with their capacity to work their own will… that was different.
“You can even help create them, the stars,” The Great Distraction had sung to mankind as he spilled his plan, “for ye are also gods.”
A few men listened, intoxicated by this absurd idea. It had to be men, and they had to be jealous men for this plan to work. Furthermore, they had to be the kind who simultaneously dismissed and took for granted their own part as Creators of Life. They were those without gratitude; the kind that see women giving birth and the new Life clinging to Her - and are envious of that love. Instead of taking joy in their part of the process, these only wish they could give birth themselves. They wish they could take the Feminine out of the equation and make all life noisy, direct, efficient and against Nature. Nature is, after all, unconcerned with “efficiency at all costs.” She values her capacity to wander from time to time and resists systems that might stifle her ability to do so. This trait confounds the kinds of men I’ve described. They can’t describe it. So, they want to destroy it.
Now, lightning was the wildest of all Creations, the noisy cousins of the clouds. The Great Distraction saw an opportunity to insult them as well as the stars by harnessing them, using them to light the night against Nature. So, he would inspire men also to do the shadowy work of capturing the lightning. This was obviously unwise, both the intent and the means. After all, the sacred and soulful chaos of the Thunder Beings inspired the humans, reminding them that any healthy soul has a wild nature that must be honored. Those forks in the darkened sky that touched the trees from time to time, or mountains, or rocks, reminded us all of the power of the sky, and the unknown. They brought wonder which is the gateway to all understanding.
And the Great Distraction hated these most powerful Beings for it.
In the end, the men who were blinded by their ambition were unable to see even this, the interrelationship between wisdom and wonder, between the mild night and the brash day, between death and life. So, the lightning was eventually harnessed, made into tameness against its wild nature and used to draw humans away from not only the night sky, but from the beauty of stillness where the voice of Creator can best be heard. And, as was his wish, The Great Distraction made certain that the harnessed lighting would not be thanked for its service. Gratitude has no place in the war against Nature.
Hence, all of Nature cried on the day electricity became “useful” to humans.
The sky is lower now, and we are a stifled species. Oppressed oppressors, devoid of wisdom, users of the power of lightning, subjugators of the Feminine. We are lost creators, making artless art against Nature without gratitude.
This is where we have landed.
…there are a few of us, and I think you are one, who have become unafraid of the silent places, and who even seek them out from time to time. The caves and deserts and deep forests feed you, do they not? They put you in touch with those parts of yourself that simply will not yell above the din. You, like me, have thereby come to see Death as performing a part of the great cycle of life, as it once informed all humans. And, in our best moments we embrace its dark light as a new beginning, time and again. Deaths’ fearless, padded feet on the wet leaves of the psyche come when they will come. We know this again, now, and welcome it. Intent upon sacrificing the only thing worthy of God, we sit upon our own sacrificial altars in the deep forest, awaiting Her stealthy gait. We anticipate the quick pang, knowing that the stars, ever present in spite of the city lights, will guide us. They will guide us home…
…in the deep…
…in the sweet…
(artist unknown, but wow)