This is my ultimate favorite flower picture from our travels in June. It is a cactus flower and I just stuck my camera's nose into the middle and took this photo. It is totally unaltered.
Eternity - as in forever and ever and ever - has been on my mind a lot lately. I think flowers and plants inspire thoughts of the eternal, at least for me. I had a teacher who said that flowers symbolize fulfillment and seeds symbolize potential. While this is true, I also see the reverse: flowers are all about the potential fertilization of seeds in the ovary and their future dispersal, and seeds are all about the fulfillment of the flower in perpetuating its species. It's a chicken and egg kind of thing.
But besides that, flowers and plants cycle around seasonally, breaking up forever and ever into manageable circling chunks of time that we can take in without panicking. The seasonal changes assure that while time keeps going on, things stay the same, and plant cycles are part of that pattern.
Our recent travels took us to Arches National Park. It was an experience of stepping both backward and forward in time. As we drove near the park, via the lesser used highway, we drove along the Colorado River. Slowly we started a descent along red walls that got higher and higher. I thought it interesting that while what is at the bottom of the canyon walls would be the most recently revealed through erosion, it would also be the oldest layers thus far uncovered. In some odd way the present moment and the far past were connected and experiencing each other. And while the future kept unfolding forward, the past kept unraveling backward. For me this created a feeling of eternity. Like the ouroborous snake that circles around and swallows its tail. We were always at the beginning and ending of time.
In the actual boundary of Arches National Park it was different. Here it was just the past over and over and over. Grains of sand whipping around in 80 mph gusts scouring everything, including us. Water worn arches and formations now in dry desert wearing down so slow that I felt time would end when the world is flat.
Being at the coast also evokes timelessness. While the waves go in and out over and over a thousand times a day, the ocean beyond the white foam frills is steady and unchanging. It breathes like a sleeping giant so huge we can only see the heave of its chest going up and down. The changing tide is not marking time at all, just the result of the giant turning this way and that, pulling the covers away and then flinging them back. What would it mean if the giant wakes?
At the coast there are sand patterns whose geometries repeat over and over. To see how the wave patterns go up and down the beach carrying little pebbles that resist return can create such intricate patterning amazes me!
Patterns are all about eternity to me. Patterns have arbitrary boundaries created by humans or nature, but if they were not bounded, they would have no limit. They would just repeat on and on. Fractals are an example of eternity patterning as well.
I make efforts to step back as far as I can in hopes of seeing the larger pattern of which I am just a grain of sand.
The sand, sea, the plants and us are all made of the same stuff in different combinations. Today I am "me" but I may turn into all kinds of things after I die. Not in a reincarnated sort of way, but in the way that all matter decays and transforms as energy into something else. If you believe science, everything that exists has always existed.
I can believe science for now, but after I die and become something else or many something else's or just compost for a long long time, I may not believe in science anymore. I probably won't believe in anything. I think eternity has a way of eroding all beliefs, because if you observe long enough, I think all beliefs are proved false.