enough just to know

green_bruckner_hires_noaa

some cultures, I am told
made sense of things, and made decisions in two ways
fundamentally different from ours:

firstly, when the stories had all been told,
the choices surfaced,
these cultures trusted each individual
to ‘know’ what they must do.
no ‘who will do what by when’ directives needed.

and secondly, before deciding,
they’d ‘sleep on it’ for a night
to allow their unconscious knowledge
(what their senses told them, and what they ‘knew’ instinctively)
to be integrated with what, consciously,
they intellectually knew and emotionally felt:
Jung’s four ways of knowing became one.

sometimes, without being able to say why or know how,
we just know.

when I flirt with the young lady on the Métro,
we appreciate each other — how we look and how we play together,
and we delight in the attention we offer each other,
but we know, without words, that this is just fun,
without motive, or intention, or future.
we just know.

and sometimes when something has happened
or even before it has happened,
before we know to think about it,
or start to feel (good or bad) about it,
we somehow know what’s going to happen next,
and what to do:
whether to act, and how,
or to do nothing, to just let it go; somehow
we just know.

turtles monica michael sweet

and now, with time to breathe,
time to just let my senses and my instincts guide me,
show me their hidden wisdom
I can feel the world
collapsing, convulsing, in the little death
of the sixth great extinction
and I know, even as I want to try to help
that nothing can be done,
that it’s already begun, that it began millennia ago
and I’ve only just noticed it.
I can’t put it into words, or even into feelings,
it’s larger than that, this aeon’s unimaginable ending.

the wild creatures
unhampered by human illusions and human hubris
have felt it, this undoing, since it began
with the death of the great mammals, and the ages of ice and fire.
they felt it, something more than sorrow, long ago, somehow
they just knew.

and so they tell me
and anyone else with the time and fortune to listen:
they tell us clueless, suffering humans what they know.

these ancient trees and tiny new-fledged birds,
these rocks, witnesses from before the start of life,
these turtles, coming ashore since before here was here,
they know.

they tell me and show me, until I know, too,
not with my too-clever mind or my weary heart
or even with my body, this strange complicity of a trillion cells,
but with something deeper, larger:
with this quiet voice of all-life-on-Earth.

they tell me, not so that I will do something,
or try, impossibly, to tell others.
they tell me
just so that I will know.

somehow it’s enough
just to know.

photos: top: andy bruckner, NOAA, public domain; bottom: monica & michael sweet photography, print owned by the author

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2 Responses to enough just to know

  1. Jon Husband says:

    Thanks for this, Dave. Yes.

  2. John Kellden says:

    Resonates on deep levels.

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