Earthrise

Earthrise

The photo of the Earth taken by Major William A Anders from the Apollo 8 capsule slingshoting around the Moon is called “Earthrise”

It changed the way we look at the world.  Captured in the lens are the lives, loves, dreams, hopes and worries of all but 3 of the entire human race, on that day, Christmas Eve 1968.

To see the Earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the Earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold – brothers who know now they are truly brothers.” ….Archibald MacLeish

Seen in this way, a delicate ark of humanity, an oasis of life in the vastness of space really makes you think.

What is to be gained by man waging war on man?  We should be working shoulder to shoulder to reach out to the stars.

How can we exist on such a vulnerable sphere and allow it to be polluted, abused, over-expolited and poisoned by our own activities?

Why do short term greed, selfishness, personal ambition and crass materialism drive a society which should be planning for the long term survival of the human race?

If you need a resolution for 2019:  work in what small way you can to reduce the impacts of mankind on Planet Earth.  Badger your politicians.  Reject plastics and chemicals.  Eat less meat.  Opt for energy from renewable sources.  Invest your pension in ethical funds.

You, Andrew Marvell; by Archibald MacLeish

And here face down beneath the sun
and here upon earth’s noonward height
to feel the always coming on
the always rising of the night:

To feel creep up the curving east
the earthy chill of dusk and slow
upon those under lands the vast
and ever climbing shadow grow

and strange at Ecbatan the trees
take leaf by leaf the evening strange
the flooding dark about their knees
the mountains over Persia change

and now at Kermanshah the gate
dark empty and the withered grass
and through the twilight now the late
few travelers in the westward pass

and Baghdad darken and the bridge
across the silent river gone
and through Arabia the edge
of evening widen and steal on

and deepen on Palmyra’s street
the wheel rut in the ruined stone
and Lebanon fade out and Crete
high through the clouds and overblown

and over Sicily the air
still flashing with the landward gulls
and loom and slowly disappear
the sails above the shadowy hulls

and Spain go under and the shore
of Africa the gilded sand
and evening vanish and no more
the low pale light across that land

nor now the long light on the sea:

And here face downward in the sun
to feel how swift how secretly
the shadow of the night comes on …

Fixed V boundless

Francis Swaine:  HMS Flora crossing with a Schooner

Francis Swaine: HMS Flora crossing with a Schooner

My mother likes to tell the story of the time my oldest brother got a new bike.  Someone was playing with his pump and he told them to stop because they would “use it up” as though the pump contained a limited supply of air, or a fixed allocation of uses.

Some things are fixed and others are boundless.  What I mean by this is that certain things have a limit to them while others are quite without limits.

In the poem below Shakespeare talks of things we once thought of as boundless but now know to have fixed limits.  The “soundless deep” has a bottom and we can now measure it.  The “broad main” of Shakespeare’s day conjured up images of an undiscovered ocean, new lands and no limits.  Today our world is a smaller place by far and every ocean is fenced in by well established borders.

Our entire planet comes with limits.  If we don’t respect those limits then there will be no long term future for mankind.  There are too many humans on the planet and we are pushing the environment to its limit with our consumption.  If mankind does not plan and implement a sustainable relationship with the Earth then the future will belong to some later evolution.

If you want to try to use things up have a go at using up things that are truly boundless and are also positive.  Try to use up all your smiles and your laughs.  Try to use up all the compliments you can think of by giving them away to others.  Use up your love, kindness and generosity.  Use up all the music and dance in the world.  Use up the sunrises and the sunsets, watch every one of them.

Try to avoid using up all your frowns, harsh words and criticisms of others.  Save them up in case you need them in the future.

Sonnet LXXX; William Shakespeare

O! how I faint when I of you do write,
Knowing a better spirit doth use your name,
And in the praise thereof spends all his might,
To make me tongue-tied speaking of your fame.
But since your worth, wide as the ocean is,
The humble as the proudest sail doth bear,
My saucy bark, inferior far to his,
On your broad main doth wilfully appear.
Your shallowest help will hold me up afloat,
Whilst he upon your soundless deep doth ride;
Or, being wracked, I am a worthless boat,
He of tall building, and of goodly pride:
Then if he thrive and I be cast away,
The worst was this, my love was my decay.

Day of the dad!

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Fathers day was fun.  I mowed the lawn, cut down some trees, went to the cinema to see “After Earth” with the boys, came home and cooked a really good pork stir fry with ginger, garlic, onion, sugar snaps, soy and white wine.  Served it with steamed rice, noodles and chili sauce.  The whole meal took about 20 minutes to cook.  That’s classy fast food.

 

After Earth turned out to be the perfect choice.  It is a film practically made for fathers day, starring a father and son, about the relationship between father and son.

 

It is a good plot too.  A young boy comes of age by saving the life of his father.  To do this he must take a long walk on earth.  On the way he is frightened by some monkeys, some cats and a large bird.  He triumphs by mastering his fear and slaying a monster, thereby earning his father’s respect.

 

We all try to slay monsters to earn our father’s respect.  Along the way many fall by the wayside, doomed to live their life in the shadow.  It is in the nature of fathers and sons to compete for respect from each other.  Fathers want their sons to look up to them.  Sons want the same from their fathers.  Both have to be careful not to allow this competition to become negative and destructive.  For it to become a battle for dominance, the young lion and the old, the young buck fighting the old stag.

 

I am still learning all of this.  I still make mistakes, but hopefully not as many or as bad as in the past.  So what are the secrets to a great father and son relationship?  Damned if I know!

 

Apart from the dreaded teenage years I think my own relationship with my father was very strong, and it got better and stronger as we both got older.  We played more chess, discussed books and music and enjoyed each other’s company.  He passed away in 2006 in October coloured weather.  I really wonder where seven years have gone.  He got out before the bubble burst and Ireland fell into recession, lucky sod!

 

 

Memory of my father; By Patrick Kavanagh

 

Every old man I see

Reminds me of my father

When he had fallen in love with death

One time when sheaves were gathered.

 

That man I saw in Gardiner Street

Stumble on the kerb was one,

He stared at me half-eyed,

I might have been his son.

 

And I remember the musician

Faltering over his fiddle

In Bayswater, London.

He too set me the riddle.

 

Every old man I see

In October-coloured weather

Seems to say to me

“I was once your father.”