I want to marry two ideas today with the hope that they will nudge open a window in our consciousness.
Carl Sagan, the American cosmologist, and all-around scientist said, “Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception.” His premonitory words are vindicated by the oft-heard statistic that over 99% of all species that ever lived are now extinct.
Read the quote again. Extinction is the rule.
Now let’s read this poem by the poet Mary Oliver with the above quote in mind-
This morning I watched
the pale green cones of the rhododendrons
opening their small pink and red blouses–
the bodies of the flowers
were instantly beautiful to the bees, they hurried
out of the dark place in the thick of the tree
one after another, an invisible line
upon which their iridescence caught fire
as the sun caught them, sliding down
Is there anything more important
than hunger and happiness? Each bee entered
the frills of a flower to find
the sticky fountain, and if some dust
spilled on the walkways of the petals
and caught onto their bodies, I don’t know
if the bees know that otherwise death
is everywhere, even in the red swamp
of a flower. But they did this
With no small amount of desperation – you might say: love.
And the flowers, as daft as mud, poured out their honey.
I have often wondered why I feel so much awe when watching nature; flowers blooming, birds swooping, stars twinkling and people doing the million and one things that people do. I think it is because I know, feel down how fleeting it all is. Somewhere in my being is that knowledge that Carl Sagan spoke of.
As I finished reading the poem, my lips curled into a smile and my heart felt warm with gratitude that Ms. Oliver had witnessed these flowers and bees and spun the wonder of the experience into my brain.
It reminded me that slowing down and experiencing life as it unfolds is perhaps one of the best gifts we can give to ourselves.