Tag Archives: philosophy

Chiaroscuro

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I soaked up a soggy sense of betrayal
each time I failed to find a toenail gap
between cruel cuts of shrapnel and scorched waste –
a haven where red-eyed ash and steely scraps
did not mingle or seek to compete,
where nature remained unscathed.

Whispering, I would inquire:
who am I, and why?

Feel like a downy feather,
 fallen from an eagle’s wing, floating
in a pool of happenstance dirt.

Feel like the cracked shell
of an oyster that shaped a pearl from
a grain of sand.

Feel like a blade of grass
waiting for chance to decide whether
I may remain upright, or be crushed.

Feel like a bee searching
for honey on the surface of a gilt-framed
landscape depicting summer’s haze.

I have been patient amid the chaos
waiting to find the silence that would allow a reply
and today my answer was delivered to me:

I am a dark and light animal,
shaded to reflect this chiaroscuro planet.

We all contain darkness and light.
These qualities make the patterns which illuminate colour and scale.
They allow us life and give us sight.

I will still try to give the light a brighter hue
and cast some warmth within the dusk,
even as my limitations become clear to me;
I am so much more than dust, but
so much less than deity.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Sarcasm

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“Only Truth matters. I know the truth; there is no God,”
he proclaimed.

I placed my hands together as if in prayer or worship. With rounded eyes I exclaimed:

“In human form, you appear as insignificant as a speck of dust in this massive, shape-shifting galaxy, which, in itself, is comparable to another – albeit larger – speck of dust floating amid the infinite galaxies beyond, and yet your mind apparently contains great knowledge. Surely you are the highest God, and yet you deny your deity. I bow down to your sacred wisdom and supremacy, but above all, I bow to your remarkable humility.”

I could read his mind:

“But… but…” it said.

Ha! So much for his honours degree in philosophy.

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Purpose

Sometimes it hurts,
and you see no purpose,
no need for the needles of pain.
No reason to search for why it occurred,
or to learn the lessons tucked deep in your brain.
You yearn for a way to rearrange history,
return to yesterday,
change its shape.

You weep and you rage,
you try meditation,
but the answer keeps slipping away.

So you weep and rage,
you rage and you weep,
pain fills your your dreams whenever you sleep
and increases when you awake.

You see no reason,
but you search for a purpose,
if only to soothe the hurt.

Grief heaps up, seemingly endless.
Death is around you, shrouded and soundless,
it threatens your loved ones and rattles the door.

In the still of the morning,
you pick at slim thoughts as you try to assuage the pain.
They dispel like salt in simmering water
and the suffering returns again.

Nobody tells you you’re trying too hard,
and the healing is contained in your subconscious brain.
The only way to access the reason
is to cease entertaining your own narrow theories,
stop looking for answers to your thin queries.

You need to keep active, deal with each day,
make peace with the pain and breathe it in.
Open to the gentlest faith you have hidden
no matter what shape that faith may take.
Whether you connect with the collective consciousness
or follow the lead of a sacred deity
or trust in planet or your brothers and sisters,
hold it within; don’t leave it to stray.

Live life, and love in the best way you’re able,
yet store some spare conscious space in your soul –
but don’t stand waiting for something to fill it,
it is up to the purpose to wait,

it will come to you when you are ready,
and on the highest level,
you will be well.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Chain

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Spent a long time waiting for the coming of age,
waiting to wake with the wisdom of a sage,
waiting for patience to replace teenage rage,
waiting for childishness to disengage.

It creeps up slowly and you’re never done
with learning life’s lessons one by one.
As the last one ends, another’s begun
and soon you know that it’s part of the fun.

Life is awash with pleasure and pain,
it’s an oddly constructed, uneven chain;
some links are intricate, while others are plain,
some look too delicate to take the strain.

Whatever the condition of your current link,
whether it is flimsy or folded by a kink,
this could pass far faster than you think;
the blink of an eye might find you in the pink.

P.S.

Make the most of your talents each day,
never be fazed by what doubters say;
don’t let temptation lead you astray;
live your life in your own unique way.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Knitting a Life

 

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When your place in this world
becomes too complex to contemplate,
and the origin of the grit in your eye
can no longer be placed,
it is best to meditate
on the inch of fine thread
that will lead you to the next step.

Take it one stitch at a time,
and don’t worry about
the final shape
of the finished piece.


There is a time for forward planning; a time to set goals and work toward ambitious aspirations. There is also a time to focus only on the next small step, not trying to control or manipulate future events. Knitting has helped me to focus on the moment, and stop trying to force change. Right now, if I stay calm and trust the future to unfold gently, it is more likely to do so.


Inspired by a ball of wool and Reena’s Exploration Challenge.

©Jane Paterson Basil

The years pass

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In the beginning
it is like this:
you are little and it is.
There is no will be,
no was in your memory.
Your existence is.
You are in this minute.

Learning comes
from beyond your consciousness;
you have no recollection
of being unable to do what you can do today,
no expectation of future ability,
and when you are happy or sad
that moment
of elation or pain
is all there is.

<> <> <>

Time passes all around you
and you don’t know when the knowledge began,
but it is as if you always understood the passage of time.
You think your memory stretches back forever
but you are only five
and though you try
you can’t recall
a time when you weren’t alive,
and you can’t imagine
that some day you will die
or even that you will age.
Life is a series of days that stretch on forever
in a complex but unchanging pattern.
You dread your sister’s Monday temper
but look forward to her weekend games
You have discovered your past,
know there is a future,
but mostly
you breathe the moment.

< <>  <>

You are eight.
When you don’t understand long division
you remember how reading
was once so difficult
and yet now it’s easy.
You think of all the changes that have taken place in your life,
all the things that you have learned.
You are clever and you know that one day
you’ll attain teenage status,
but thinking ahead to a time when
you’ll no longer be under the protection of your parents
is too distant,
until that horrific day when your friend
turns up looking miserable and you ask her what’s wrong.

She tells you her mother has died.

Something crashes, noisily, in your head
spreading crimson through your brain
thickening, blocking your ears,
constricting your throat.
There are no words
and when they finally come they are the wrong ones,
thrown out in panic, because all this is outside your experience,
and because suddenly you know that one day
what has happened to your friend
will happen to you.
You will be alone. It could be forty years from now
or it could be tomorrow.
You could come home from school
and find your mother dead.

At night, when you lie in bed,
the fears crash in
like vandals breaking the windows of a vacant property,
and they don’t stop kicking until you have cried yourself to sleep.
They won’t let you alone, and yet
you still don’t think of how it will be when you are grown up.
You tell people you want to be a journalist
but it isn’t real.
There is only the past, the present, tomorrow, next week
and your terror.

< < <>

Your teens
are driven by twin needs for excitement and love,
complicated by unsettling hormones
setting up battles in the brain.
You trip again and again,
rarely regaining your balance before a further fall.
You turn blind corners and scale forbidden walls.
You scale, you tire, you fail, you fall.
You scale, you tire, you fail, you fall.
it becomes boring, but you cannot stop
because you are lost in a lonely shadow
looking for something which you think
is out there.

Somebody says
you won’t find it until you find yourself,
You catch the the words as they tumble from his lips,
but they get jumbled on the way to your mind
and although you try you cannot untangle them.

You want to find your way in life,
but amidst all the confusion
you do not have the vision
or the time.

<> < <>

On your twentieth birthday,
looking back at your errant teens
you think you have learnt all your lessons
and there are no more mistakes to be made.
You’ve escaped your most recent error
and you’re having a good day.
You assume you’ve cast
a healthy pattern for your future,
but when you try to imagine the rest of your life
you picture yourself cartwheeling through a sunny meadow,
arriving at the other end with skin still fresh
and energy fizzing.

You don’t know you have just hit
that quintessential moment of youth.
You walk down the street feeling the spring of your feet.
Your spine stretches and the sky tickles your chin,
and when you laugh
your laughter scoops merriment out of a void,
pulling it from the throats of strangers.
You feel like the chosen leader
in a land you have freed from
the tyranny of misery.

You think the planet is turning
just so it can look at you from the best angle,
but for five minutes you own the world.
For five minutes you think that life
will always be that way.

You will live long enough to learn
that those five minutes were worth more
than your finest rose-petal romance.

< < <>

Forty years pass.
Forty years of missed prizes and misdirected action,
of rubbings-out and scribbled correction,
resulting in good and bad things,
many of them enduring long enough
to cheer or chill you as you age
and when you ponder it,
you know that if at any stage
you had seriously thought about your future,
you would not have dreamed that so many of your days
would be so infused with pain.
But then, if you had thought about your future,
it probably wouldn’t have.

You enjoy the better things you’ve made
and you’ve learnt from your mistakes.
It would have been no education
to have come through life unscathed.

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Posted for The Daily Post’s One Word Prompt: Clock

©Jane Paterson Basil