In the vast abyss before time, self
is not, and soul commingles
with mist, and rock, and light. In time,
soul brings the misty self to be.
Then slow time hardens self to stone
while ever lightening the soul,
till soul can loose its hold of self
and both are free and can return
to vastness and dissolve in light,
the long light after time.*
(Ursula Le Guin)
You will never regret offering dignity to others.**
Dignity is not so much something we give to others but recognise in them.
We may think of ourselves as better than others or think that others are better than us but when we zoom out we see how many of the differentiating factors we’ve been noticing are lost.
Erich Fromm confesses for himself and all of us when he writes:
‘There is nothing in the patient that is not in me.’^
We each find ourselves on a journey bringing “the misty self to be.” We try to be open to see more, feel more and, so we might express our dignity to others, do more:
“Each thing we see hides something else we want to see.”^^
Which feels as though we areliving within a compelling story – something every life is more than able to do.
Wallace Stevens provides us with another way of seeng this, how the artist has the ability to take reality within their imagination. Not in order to hide or obliterate reality, but for something new and subtle to be shaped, what I am imagining to be our compelling story:
“[The artist] must be able to abstract himself and also to abstract reality, which he does by placing it in his imagination. … It’s imperative for him to make a choice, to come to a decision regarding the imagination and reality; and he will find that it is not a choice of one over the other and not a decision that divides them, but something subtler, a recognition that here, too, as between these poles, the universal interdependence exists, and hence his choice and his decision must be that they are equal and inseparable.”*^
I am coming to see how it is our compelling story that emerges when we interact with all of our environments, as Stevenshelps us to see.
James Carse provides us the means of seeing life as finite and infinite games. Dignity and worth are part of our infinite games of including as many as possible for as long as possible, wherein, if either of these are threatened by the rules, we change the rules so the game may continue for as many as possible:
‘But since that [infinite] play is always with others, it is evident that infinite player both live and dies for the continuing life of others.’^*
(*How it Seems to Me by Ursula Le Guin, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Neil Gaiman Reads Ursula K. Le Guin’s Ode to Timelessness to his One-Hundred Year Old Cousin.)
(**From Seth Godin’s blog: Justice and dignity: the endless shortage.)
(^From Erich Fromm’s The Art of Listening.)
(^^Rene Magritte, quoted in Erwin McManus’ Soul Cravings.)
(*^Wallace Stevens, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Wallace Stevens on Reality, Creativity, and Our Greatest Self-Protection From the Pressure of the News.)
(^*From james Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)