Our inner workings

April 18, 2011

Some five hundred years ago Leonardo da Vinci dissected corpses in order to view the hidden workings of the human body. The exquisite drawings that resulted from his observations are still marvels today for their fusion of science and art.

This past week I had a MRI done of the lumbar region of my spine to help diagnose a chronic problem associated with a lower back that has taken the brunt of many years of physical challenges associated with apprenticing myself to this earth. I’ll not pretend to liking the pain, but to ripen fully as a human being requires more than just dancing in the lightness of joy; it demands, as Rilke would write, an equal share of “darkness and travail”.

On the bright side, to see through modern technology what Leonardo was able to see, and, better yet, take a revealing look at “my very own inner workings”, is nothing short of miraculous.

We human animals have evolved into a complex and intricate piece of machinery. What I do with all the many parts that create my whole is, I hope, worthy of the millions of years of creation that went into its making. I know that I am a stunning piece of work. We all are. But we are asked to do more than just strut our stuff.

In the Drawing Room

They are all around us, these lordly men
in courtiers’ attire and ruffled shirts
like an evening sky that gradually
loses its light to the constellations; and these ladies,
delicate, fragile, enlarged by their dresses,
one hand poised on the neck-ribbon of their lapdog.

Tactful, they leave us undisturbed
to live life as we grasp it
and as they could never comprehend it.
They wanted to bloom
and to bloom is to be beautiful.
But we want to ripen,
and for that we open ourselves to darkness and travail.

Rilke

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