All the new thinking is about loss.
In this it resembles all the old thinking.
The idea, for example, that each particular erases
the luminous clarity of a general idea. That the clown-
faced woodpecker probing the dead sculpted trunk
of that black birch is, by his presence,
some tragic falling off from a first world
of undivided light.
from a poem by Robert Hass
I wanted to write about these lines that I had received some days ago, from somebody who is very dear to me. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't come up with something more beautiful (and 'beautiful' means here 'round', or 'whole', too) than the gift that I had been given along with this poem, and which is this small confession:
'I want all the little details of the world, I want to see them and touch them with something like love, the woodpecker and the knots and hollows of the birch - but, at the same time, I long for that “undivided light” so much that my eyes fill with tears and I ache with a feeling like thirst. I fear myself a little, because I think I might be willing to erase the birch and the woodpecker (a terrible, terrible thought) if that meant I could stand in this light.'
Tonight, looking at the tree in this picture, my friend's words have come back to me (they hadn't left me at all, to tell the truth). I remember how I stood on the shore of the frozen lake and opened the back side of my camera, slowly, letting the light in. The unbearable light of the winter sun.
And then other words have come, ancient words, that I had thought long forgotten, the words of the God echoing thus, in my mind:
'The Blessed Lord said: There is a banyan tree which has its roots upward and its branches down and whose leaves are the Vedic hymns. One who knows this tree is the knower of the Vedas.
The branches of this tree extend downward and upward, nourished by the three modes of material nature. The twigs are the objects of the senses. This tree also has roots going down, and these are bound to the fruitive actions of human society.
Bhagavad Gita, from Chapter 15