Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Soul in the Easy Season

Autumn is headed here, as it has annually for two billion years or more, and as it shall continue for perhaps as long into the future. We are warm blooded creatures with incredible domain over the landscape, but with no control over the coming and going of the seasons. Yet, it pleases us when summer arrives, when it stays, and when it carries on so far as to bring us abundance from our gardens and our waters.

A human being, given adequate clean water, simply needs less food to maintain her body temperature to survive during the warm, humid summers that persist throughout most of our species' historic range.  Our body chemistry, and even our souls, respond to summer's arrival, exploding like a blooming prairie to the possibility of investing in something other than survival in the cold. It is a glorious time of year to be warm-blooded.  To be human. To know the earth and waters below our feet. To know God, to such extent that any of us can know him. Late summer is the easy season.

It is easy enough to write wistful tales of charcoal grills, red and white fishing bobbers, and teaching a young boy or girl to skip rocks or collect worms for bait.  I am guilty of frequently indulging in such writing - not only because it is easy, but because it is satisfying to my mind and soul.  That writing has some value, perhaps, because our senses record and our memory recalls warm weather contentment driven by our inherited biology, natural instincts, and our souls.  But let us not confuse our senses as being direct products of our soul.

When I examine, as I've been known to do, the reasons why I spend so much time afield, the reasons explode onto the page (or screen) like spores from a forest puffball. Yet, almost all of them quickly fall into the mold of what I just described.   Sensory memories. Pleasantries.  A sincere connection to that which is real.  I strongly believe that all of those are valid reasons to pursue a life outdoors.  And yet they fall so short of explaining why our connection to the outdoors can be so strong - and why we come so vibrantly alive in the summer.  There is something more, a piece of us far more deep and precious and intractable that cannot easily be explained by the weights and measures of scientists, or even with a working knowledge of the source of pheromones and instincts automatically thrusted into our consciousness by summer's arrival.

If I claimed to understand anything about my own soul, let alone yours, I would be lying.  I don't know where it is.  What it is.  Why it persists, despite our greatest efforts to eliminate it.  Or why God let us keep it in the first place.  And yet, it is there, not because it is, but because it must be.  Some argue that the soul is clearest to our consciousness in times of great need and strife.  I disagree, for it is those moments when most living things - including people - hold and act upon the strongest biological instincts within us, wholly disregarding ethereal arguments about righteousness, piety, and our eternal destination.  I'd argue to any philosopher that a cold winter's crisis is a cruel time to evaluate a man's or woman's deeper basis for existing.  

Instead, I'd tell them that the soul is most apparent in the late summer.  The easy season.


e.m.b. said...

"like spores from a forest puffball..." Very fine piece. Loved the imagery.

Kirk Mantay said...

Thanks Erin! Topic had been on my mind. Kind of exhausting to write (and fully think through) - I rarely feel that way.

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