Thoughts on the Value of Life

Reflection on Aging

On Seeing a Log Fire Start

Thirty rings mark the years time

has hard-pressed into record

as a kind of diary for those

who care to see, while

Thirty years are marked with rings

more inward as the secret journal

of one whose hopes conspire

by conflagration to be set free.

Moment’s blaze turns to hour’s ash

within the confines of the night

and somewhere amid the

lost or hidden rings is an answer,

perhaps,

as to which has gained or lost the more?


May, 1973 (revised, 2001)

[campground, N. Myrtle Beach, SC]

There's something about the out-of-doors that prompts reflection and internal musings. That's true, whether you're at the sea shore or among giant redwoods, standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon or on the summit of one of the highest mountains in the Rockies.

Perhaps its the size difference between us single human beings and the world of nature around us. Or, as was the case with this poem, it was the passage of time and the dwindling embers of a campfire late in the night that brought about deeper thoughts.

What moves you to reflect on your mortality . . . on the significance (or its lack) in your life to date? Mystics over the centuries mused about the big issues, and monks (especially those in the East) have used deep and prolonged meditation to come to grips with their place in the gigantic scheme of things.

It's worth taking a little time now and then to consider where we fit in it all, and what we have (and hopefully will still) contribute to those around us and to the grand scheme of life.

The Matterhorn - Zermatt, Switzerland
The Matterhorn - Zermatt, Switzerland | Source
Grand Canyon, Arizona
Grand Canyon, Arizona | Source

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