Pearly Everlasting with Blue Butterfly Duo (IX.15.08), just under Horton Pass,
Eagle Cap Wilderness . . .
One of my constant themes is a difference I see——for better or worse——
between mere mechanical randomness like that which a computer so easily
generates, and chance. Chance I see as something far more mysterious.
An event may seem like chance only because its matrix of causes lies
outside the field of our comprehension; Or it may at other times appear as
an almost divinely inspired confluence of hitherto separate streams of fate,
as when two strangers unexpectedly encounter each other on a path and instantly
recognize and are bonded by a kind of deep sympathetic resonance. I in no
way think that such a view must retreat into a kind of dreamlike romantic
subjectivity. On the contrary, such an open view of chance appears to me
almost unavoidable as we by hard thinking reach the end of the road of
logic and reason, and enter into the pathless wilds of the unknown. This
is where Art & Science, I feel, so easily join hands and walk together, for
who would deny that what we do not understand of reality is a vastly—
—perhaps infinitely so——greater realm or domain or area than that
which we can truly say we know or understand. And who would deny that
image and metaphor are not just as necessary items of our equipage as
mathematics and formal model when it comes to exploring new
and still uncharted terrain.
So, in this spirit, here is a little flutter of a piece which
turns around this idea of chance and what I call
the butterfly way . . .
A TOSS OF THE COIN
A fork in the trail appears,
with two wooden signs, each pointing
in opposite directions, each
of equal appeal.
Which way shall I follow?
I could stop to study my map.
Or wait a while to ask a fellow passerby.
Or I could leave it to the gods of chance
and toss a coin,
heads to the left,
tails to the right.
Always ready and willing to bet on good
fortune, I give my lucky nickel a stout thumb-flick
up into the clear morning air and watch
it spin for the longest time as if in slow motion,
then, to my amazement, miracle of miracles,
before my disbelieving eyes my coin
metamorphoses into the most
beautiful butterfly I ever beheld.
What to do? Of course:
Follow the butterfly way!
Eagle Cap Wilderness,
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