Summer Solstice musings

The inevitability of change & the superficiality of belief

Scorzonera at a farm in Paonia, Colorado [Photo by the author]

Here in the northern hemisphere we are in the midst of the longest days and shortest nights of year. The farther north you live, the more pronounced the effect. I once took a night train through Norway at this time of year and it never got fully dark. In the seats ahead of me, young people playing guitars didn’t put down their instruments til morning’s brightness. The vibe was at once surreal and comforting, a dimness that never darkened but lit by the golden tones of the gentle strumming. A candlelit mood, I dare say.

Tonight I am at a cabin on the West Slope of Colorado. The sun’s been down for an hour and a sliver-thin but bright sickle moon is sinking slowly toward the horizon, its horns pointing towards Venus. But once upon a time, I wrote:

“There, see that?” I say. She nods. “That is Venus. Or what we call Venus. But I know that it is Earendil the Mariner, in his ship the Foam Flower, with the Silmaril upon his brow, sailing on and ever on, in the eons between stars.”

“I can see him,” she says. “The mist is in his eyes.”

“He longs for his beloved, Elwing, but she is the gull above the surf. He is on different seas.”

That’s from a short story I wrote back when I did fiction, which I’d like to take up again someday. There’s things you can say that way — through imaginary mouths — that don’t come out any other way, and that reach us in place untouched by a recitation of facts or figures.

The truth is that we are drawn and shaped by narrative, by the emotional and the subjective, rather than by proofs and demonstrations. There’s nothing wrong with that, but we should be clear with ourselves about it. It’s easy to believe that we *know* things that we actually don’t — things that we actually couldn’t know, because they are far away or otherwise beyond the immediate reaches of our senses.

Terence McKenna, who was born and is buried in the nearby town of Paonia where I’ve been spending a lot of time, said in 1985:

“I don’t believe in belief. I think belief is a tremendously stultifying force. What I’m interested in is freedom, and I noticed very