Tuesday, November 16, 2010


It is one of the existential givens.  We all wend our way alone ... quivering on the edge of the great expanse ...  wondering how we will get from here to there ... knowing no one else can propel us forward, no one else can bridge the gap from here to there.   Yes, we can construct illusions that we are propped up, held up by a guide wire, that a safety net will catch us if we fall.  But in the dark of night we know we teeter alone bridging that expanse from here to there.  You would think the steps would become familiar, the path less steep, the waver in our balance less off kilter ... 

Sometimes one needs to look behind to see how one got from there to here balancing on gossamer threads like a lonely tight-rope walker through time and space.  Surely if we made it half way across this thread of life, we can bridge the final divide from here to there

The threads on which we teeter must come from within.  They alone have the resilience to support us.  We are all weaving threads within, to drape and glide from here to there. 

Ah, but then we realize we are not only afraid of being alone on the thin thread from here to there ... we are also not sure we want to go there at all.   Yes ... another given ... there ...  There is part of the contract ... the agreement we usually cannot recall signing.  Bound by the contract to balance on a gossamer thread while making our way from here to there..

Look!  Wave!  We're all on a gossamer thread wending our way across time and space ... yet we each must weave, build and cross over ... to there ...  alone.  A smile, some eye contact and a little wave sure help.  Look.  Smile.  Wave.  :-)

A noiseless patient spider
I marked where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Marked how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launched forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself.
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.
And you, O my soul, where you stand
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the sphere to connect them.
Till the bridge you will need be formed, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul!

~ Walt Whitman

(The image of spider webs is courtesy of QuikDrah at DeviantArt.com)


  1. I think there is supposed to be a photo of a spider on my screen, but the only thing I see is the photo frame with a small question mark in the center. Ironically, that image could also be an appropriate illustration for what you are talking about in this post — the lone journey from here to there, without even knowing precisely where "there" is. Perhaps Gertrude Stein is on point here; perhaps there is no there there.

    It is our nature as humans to crave certainty, and terms like "here" and "there" are designed to provide a measure of certitude; it's a way of getting our bearings. I wonder, however, if there is really a here or there in the larger scheme of things. I'm reminded of something Einstein said about time be nothing more that a human concept and convenience. Maybe it's the same with the spacial concepts of here and there; maybe the very notion of movement means that we are never here or there, in which case, we can just relax and float upon the winds of change, wherever they take us.

    Perhaps I have said to much and should go fix dinner for my wife. The question, of course, is whether I can get from here to there.

  2. Hi George,

    The image appears on my blog. Strange. The only thing I can think of is that I was notified by Google that I have exceeded my storage limit for images and that I have to purchase more storage capacity, which I have yet to do. Perhaps they are not allowing publication of images until I ante up. Hmmmmm.

    I agree with everything you say. I realize that I write most of my psychological/existential/spiritual posts from the viewpoint of an educator. As an educator you start where people are. Most people are dealing with life from an ego perspective. Even those who have learned how to move beyond ego, find themselves at times, stuck in egoic modalities of thought. While this post is not where I 'live', it has value for those who live with existential anxieties and fears. I write it for them and I write in first person so that it does not come off as preaching - that everyone knows that I know what it is like to live with existential anxiety and can speak from that point of view.

    I perhaps need to rethink my style as an educator, as it can lead one to think I am still quaking with existential anxieties. They can arise, but for the most part I have done my work.

    I see this blog as an opportunity to offer information, growth and solace. I write to that end, not necessarily from my own situation.

    I so appreciate the educational value of all your comments here.

  3. So true. We may not know how we'll get from here to there, but we will indeed do it. Then here will have been there.

  4. Like George, I can only see the icon where the picture should be. Nonetheless, the anxiety is implicit here - I can just feel it when I read about the "measureless oceans of space". Then again, that could only be a matter of my warped perception. Perhaps it is better interpreted as exhilaration? Great, as always, to be here. EFH

  5. Just for the record, Bonnie, I interpreted your posting as being directed to existential issues that are universal, rather than restricted to particular individuals. Frankly, I think you have a very effective approach as an educator.

  6. Hilary,

    Thank you for your comment!

  7. Expat:

    I interpreted it as anxiety as well ... until the gossamer thread catches somewhere.

    Thanks for info re image. I'll see what I can do ... but I have my doubts that I will be able to get from here to there. :-)

  8. George: It truly is a universal theme, isn't it. Even when we have approached and addressed existential themes, we only need to suffer the loss of a loved one to revisit our anxiety about 'there'.

  9. Ah, doing a little weaving over 'there' eh?

  10. It all seems so fragile... When my web is built, I'm going to invite a bunch of friends over to jump on it with me. Smile wave.

  11. We land in a foreign place and find hearts.

    Aloha from Waikiki :)

    Comfort Spiral



  12. Hilary #2: Yes, weaving away ... hoping when I fling them they will catch on the other side! :0)

  13. Butternut: Maybe I have been listening to too many fragile stories of late.

    I have heard that comparitively speaking the strands of a spider's web are as strong as a steel beam. So guess they could withstand some jumping!

  14. Cloudia: Trust you to put a beautiful 'spin' on things!

  15. As I read your words, Whitman's and then George's, I just kept feeling that there is no there, there is only here. Then George quoted Stein. It took me a few years of serious practice, of loosening expectations for there, and realizing that this moment is the only place I can exist, to get here.

    I recall when this happened with me, when I reached my google/blogger storage limit. I paid $3.95 I think, et voila!, I was there. Please pay it, we can't live without Bonnie images. :)

  16. Your words evoke such beautiful images of gossamer thread weaving our lives into beautiful patterns that we can only see when we stop and look back. Only then we understand and then we can continue weaving our way forward. And isolated journey for sure. A smile and a wave is definitely needed all along the way!

  17. Ruth: Thanks Ruth, not to worry - the tiny fee will be paid - I just have to remember to bring my wallet into my office for the credit card number in order to make the payment!

    Couldn't agree more that one of the sweet secrets to a skillfully led life is living in the here and now.

    I will have to go back and reread what I wrote, as it must be too obscure (although I wrote it that way on purpose). I was referencing two of life's existential givens - 1) our fundamental aloneness, and 2) our mortality. The 'there' is referencing death, not a goal, emotional state or place.

    I love your suggestion that one of our goals is to 'get here' ... Was it Ram Das that said, "Be here now."? To always be in the 'there' that you and George are referencing means we miss out on the glories of the here and now.
    However, being here, now, does not give us an exemption from the 'there' I was referencing - death.

  18. bonnie...i wish i could say something semi intelligent other than nod my head...and know i needed to read it...

  19. Brian: Thanks Brian. Even your stutters and stammers are intelligent to me!!!

  20. I am not sure that we have a choice at all. We are here, always, here is always where we are. There is here when we are there.
    The gossamer threads are here, they lead us to here.

    We are here and we are alone.

  21. WOW! That photo of the spider webs has finally appeared on my screen and it is stunning! Thanks. I find the shot very inspiring.

  22. Friko: So, I can assume you are saying, "This is it!" And in one 'here' we will have to face the 'there' of death. But, I know, you think I'm morbid! :-)

  23. George: Ah, you are very kind. It is an amazing shot - wish it were mine. Thank you for alerting me that it was not there earlier.

  24. I love how you wove your cyber-web with prose, poetry and photography. Life is like that: sticky, fragile, resilient and beautiful.

  25. This is a very thoughtful post and that Whitman poem at the end is the perfect complement. Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  26. Sarah: Oh yes ... and beautiful!

  27. Cuban: Thank you - glad you liked it.

  28. Our existence on gossamer threads...a delicate balancing act and feat of courage. Wonderful image.

  29. Yes, its true, that "there" becomes a bit more prominent in thought when you have experienced a loss. I enjoyed this entire post and concur with most everything everyone said. Sometimes "learning" comes from remembering what we already know. Thanks for those reminders.

  30. I watch a squirrel rush across the patio to get to another tree, day after day, time after time.

    We do too. Rush to get to another place, getting courage each time to make the trip, holding our breath, crossing our fingers.

    And there is the rub. We envision there as always better than here. Only after we reach the end of our days, we begin to question our goals, our urges, our constant skittering.

    A very thoughtful post. Thank you, Bonnie.

  31. I did get your lovely, fantastic image. Very beautiful. Astounding actually. The light was so right.

    I'm here, when I get there, there will be here and there will be more there to go till here ends.

  32. Yes, indeed. I´m balancing on a very fine wire at the moment. Wish me luck.


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