"It is not easy to live in that continuous awareness of things which alone is true living. Even those who make a parade of their conviction that sunset, rain, and the growth of a seed are daily miracles are not usually so much impressed by then as they urge others to be. The faculty of wonder tires easily and a miracle which happens everyday is a miracle no longer, no matter how much one tells oneself that it ought to be. Life would seem great deal longer a a great deal fuller than it does if it were not for the fact that the human being is, by nature, acreature to whom "0 Altitudo" is much less natural than ”So what!”.
"Really to see something once or twice a week is almost inevitably to have to try - though, alas, not necessarily with success to make oneself a poet. For our natural insensibility there is no permanent cure. One may seek new sights and new wonders, but that aid to awareness, like other stimulants, must be used with caution. If the familiar has a way of becoming invisible, the novel has away of seeming unreal -more like a dream or a picture than areal actuality. And certainly no nan is less aware of things than the conscientious traveler who hurries from wonder to wonder until nothing less than the opening of the heavens on judgement day could catch the attention of his jaded brain. Madder music and stronger wine pay diminishing returns.
"I have never practiced the swami’s technique for "heightening consciousness” and I doubt that I ever shall. For one thing, I am not sure I want to be so exclusively aware of either myself or the ALL in the colorless essence of either. To put it in a dignified way, I prefer to live under the dome of a many-colored glass and to rest content with the general conviction that the white radiance of Eternity has something to do with it. To put it more familiarly; what I am after is less to meet God face-to-face than really to take in a beetle, a frog, or a mountain when I meet one.
"Those who advise us to stalk, as it were, exquisite sensations, seem to warn us how alert we must be if we are not to miss one of those special moments when something or other in nature, or art, or music is reaching perfection, as though only a few things were worth experiencing. But the rare moment is not the moment when there is something worth looking at, but the moment when we are capable of seeing.
"The acute awareness of a natural phenomenon, especially of a phenomenon of the living world, is the thing most likely to open the door to that joy we cannot analyze. What is the content of the experience? What is it in such moments Iseem to realise? Of what is my happiness compounded? First of all, perhaps, there is the vivid assurance that the things of the universe itself really do exist; that life is not a dream; second, that Reality is pervasive and it seems, unconquerable.
"The future of mankind is dubious. Perhaps the future of the whole earth is only somewhat less dubious. But one knows that all does not depend on nan, that possibly, even, it does not depend upon this earth. Should man disappear, rabbits nay welll still run and flowers may still open. If this globe itself should perish, then it seems not unreasonable to suppose that what inspires the stem and the flower may exist somewhere else. And we, it seems, are at least part of all this."
- from The Desert Year, by Joseph Wood Krutch, The Viking Press, New York, 1951.
Learn more about Joseph Wood Krutch here:
- Harold Wood