[This essay was written the summer of 2016, and will appear in My Rogue Mile, a collection of thoughts, photos, and meditations, later this year. The photo above is from a redwood grove in northern California.]
IT ASTONISHES me how many people refuse to look up, to bathe themselves in the descending light.
I'm not talking physically: that's a trivial thing to do. The sun rises, the sun sets, and sometimes folks actually look at it. The moon goes through its phases, and sometimes it gets noticed as well. The stars wheel soundlessly above us, and occasionally we'll go out and look up at them.
No, I'm talking spiritually. I'm talking about looking up and seeing the good in this world, and taking the time to give thanks and praise, and to call that good what it is.
We live in a moral universe. I know that doesn't jibe with the current, dominant mindset, which clings to a materialistic worldview, but I don't care. I'm convinced that underlying the foundation of the physical universe is a moral infrastructure.
"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." Martin Luther King, Jr., knew it, and so do I.
People don't want to believe that evil exists, let alone that they may very well embody it. Look at the modern Republican party. Look at their candidate for president. Look at what they say in comment strings all over the Internet. The light cascades down, it illuminates everything—but they have dug themselves into a hole and refuse to see it, let alone call it good, and attack folks who try, or do.
Looking up and calling good good requires courage and faith. It requires a constant willingness to change and to admit that you might be wrong,. It requires that you learn the art of appreciation and unlearn what you've been brainwashed into doing since you took your first breath, and that is consumption. It requires compassion, resilience, honesty, and reflection, none of which is easy to develop.
For far too long I kept my chin down, my gaze fixed at my feet. But a life worth living requires that you learn to look up. It isn't as easy as it sounds.