Sine qua non


“Without which, Nothing.”

IT NEVER would have happened, this scene, under zero conditions would ever I have stood on this beach, heard this cool water whispering in the sand, felt that breeze across the water, were it not for the machine you see here, colored maroonish-white.

Is that what they had in mind, the ones who labored and failed, labored and won the inventions of flight?  “It’s not the machine that matters,” would they have said, “it’s the experience that the machine will bring to lives unborn!”

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THERE THEY were, mid autumn.  Under the maple tree a host of dead leaves, bright lives gone.  On one branch nearly bare of leaves stayed the green one, barely touched by time and wind, by the rain and heat that that had scorch-beaten so many others to death.

I stood there in the path and watched the dead ones rustle on the ground, the green one flutter in the breeze, “Go along, death, I am not your subject!

Is it the same with us, too?  What is it makes some folks flutter years on their branch, laugh at dying long after their peers are dust?

The echo that came to me was attitude: what we most deeply believe about who we are, what we know about our place in the universe, the delight with which we engage that which we most love.

You have your examples, I have mine; we just fit different names to the ones we know fell away from the branch early and why, the ones who stayed and why.  Not that falling away’s the end of the world, us leaves will be back, trying life again next Spring.

How essential, I thought, is such an invisible thing: the way we happen to think, to all the visibles of our lifetime!

Curious, I picked that emerald flag from above the path, lifted the dead one from the ground, brought them home.  As the weeks went by, neither changed.  Both are dry, but the green leaf’s still living green, the dead one’s still dead.