“Each of us is a unique strand in the intricate web of life and here to make a contribution.”
Tess Delia dabbled in many artistic things, but loved landscape and flowers. A daughter of Rockland County NY, she honed her crafts in a Piermont studio, a small business in a small town. She knew everyone and everyone knew her. Tess passed away from cancer over a decade ago. But her studio still stands, its doors locked, its walls covered in ivy, spider webs and fading paint, her name on the door.
I think of her every time I pass.
And as I rode by on my trike Saturday morning, I was struck by the reflections of the nearby streetscape in the studio's windows, the tumbled aging studio's contents rising to the windows, obscuring the river beyond.
I stopped and started taking pictures.
Playing with light, reflection and camera motion, what emerged were images in which it was difficult to discern past, present...or even future.
I stopped and wondered.
What if our understanding of time was as distorted as the reflections in the window? What if given the awesome and ancient nature of the universe, all the moments in one individual life, or quadrillions of lives, all effectively existed at once, the individual smashed beyond memory or recognition?
What can be lasting impact of one ordinary life? One like Tess's, one like mine?
Buddha taught that the universe is a living, interconnected, entity and that nothing exists separate from the life of the universe. Shorthand for this web of interconnectedness, also described in Chopra's quote, was described by Thích Nhất Hạnh as: "this is, because that is".
And so each of us will influence the whole of the universe and the whole of time -- the entire web of life. This is massive and astonishing. It suddenly occurs to me that each life is indeed very extraordinary -- Tess's, mine, yours. What an extraordinary responsibility for each of us.
And in a slow awakening, I fully understand the Buddha quote which has become a Northstar of sorts, albeit waiting to be fully revealed. "In the end only 3 things matter. How much you loved, how gently you lived and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you."
I too often live loudly and clumsily. And too often I covet and grasp. But I have learned to love fully, often and well. It is a start. And I dedicate myself to living as a lifelong student.
Because only the whole of the universe depends on it.