Enjoy the trees blowing in the wind while reading a book on the couch, my favorite thing.
Those were the parting words of the owner who last lived in my condo. I too enjoy the sound of the leaves in the wind. I notice them more in the fall, maybe because the leaves are crisper or maybe because there’s more wind. I’ve set my reading couch to look right out the window of my writing room, right into the eye of the trees. Our courtyard is full of them. As I write this, I’m listening.
Summers I like to read: classical literature or philosophy; I alternate. This summer I read Heraclitus, a kind of Ecclesiastes of the fifth century Greek world, a philosopher, literally a “lover of wisdom,” but a century or two ahead of Socrates, Plato and Ecclesiastes. Scholars credit Heraclitus with the notion of Logos (or Word) in Western thought.
By cosmic rule,
as day yields night,
so winter summer,
war peace, plenty famine.
All things change.
Fragments+ is a thin book really, called that because all we have left of Heraclitus are other people’s quotes of his writings. As a book it’s more poetry than prose, more contemporary than ancient, or perhaps it is the times we are living through that are ancient.
But Heraclitus is not done with us. There’s something else to this fragment, one of the longer ones we have received from him. He makes reference to the closeness of death; close, too, during this season:
Fire penetrates the lump
of myrrh, until the joining
bodies die and rise again
in smoke called incense.
I recall one of my professors once saying that you could translate the opening words to the Gospel of John, “In the beginning was the Verb” instead of “the Word.” Logos is a motion, a process, all of it energy, what Heraclitus named fire. “All things change.” Somehow in the change is the Mystery.
+Heraclitus, Fragments, translated by Brooks Haxton, Penguin Books: Toronto.