The Alchemy of I

There was a wondrous lift to the breeze yesterday.  A certain undeniable lilt to the patterned drifting of the clouds in their sea of blue.  We were below, working the potatoes.  Mounding soft dirt at the base of each plant and cutting skyward shoots above: our intention the focusing of energy in the tubers slowly forming in the earth’s cradle.

I suspect the culprit was the particular slant to the afternoon light — so clean and clear and sentient.  There was something to the way it held the thick, emanate green of the potato plants’ leaves.  But whatever the impetus, as I rose from the last plant in the last row, for the space of one breath, I was able to hold mystery.

There were the potato plants — the Kennebecs, the German Butterballs and the Red Marias — with their roots in the earth and their green limbs in the sky.  Embodiments of a marvelous transmutation of energy: carbon and sunlight and water and nutrients and spirit into fleshy tuber.  Life born from life in this system where energy is neither lost nor gained.

And there too was I.  Likewise a marvelous transmutation of energy: air and fire and water and earth and spirit into flesh.  Likewise an intimate to this system.

In magic we speak of grounding: aligning our energy to the energy of the universe, creating a rod with our bodies that reaches from the earth below to the stars above.  I have grounded countless times, connecting myself to the amazing amounts of energy abundant in the universe; taking what I need for the task at hand and returning any excess back to the earth.  But I have never understood, until that moment as I was rising from the potato rows, that when I ground, what I am truly tapping into is a miraculous and powerful alchemy.

Neil DeGrasse, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History and host of NOVA scienceNOW, articulates this mystery ever so much better than I can.  In an interview with Time in June 2008, he was asked to name the most astounding fact in the universe.  In his response, in his voice, I hear the thickness of human wisdom, the layered voices of many teachers.  “See, here, look,” they are saying.

Listen to DeGrasse’s answer and see it beautifully integrated with images of space by videographer Max Schlickenmeyer.

Or listen to the complete, ten question Time interview and see DeGrasse himself.

© Jennifer S. and, 2012.


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