Note: There are three footnotes in this installment.
In New York City, Manhattan, people gathered at sunset last night to take selfies backlit by the sun shining through the "henge" of the city. People see the cosmic significance of this universal, predictable event and they want to document it. It helps them find themselves in an artificial universe that has become too impersonal. The reason New York works as a henge is, it's all laid out on a grid, a world unto itself with its own constellations. Like those artificial stars that were illuminating the darkness around my golden trophy tower, the stars of the city are artificial, but the sun is real. This "Manhattanhenge" happens two times a year. Of course it reminds me of New Grange in County Meath, Ireland, a gigantic Neolithic mound that acts as a lens, for guiding and focusing the light of the setting sun, on Solstice, to an 18 foot chamber at the heart of the mound.
People are hungry for reassurance that there is some grand plan with which they can align themselves before they have to get back to work in the great hive we call New York. (Is comparing us to worker bees fair? After all, isn't there more to the big apple than making honey? Don't you wish you could interview a bee? I can imagine asking a bee, "How can you work so hard all the time?" And the bee answers, "Work? I don't know what you are talking about. I'm just doing my thing. What is work?" Maybe human beings are the only ones who can answer that question.)
I think of the young man who did the fire vigil here. He sat up all night. If he followed the ritual instructions he would have lit his fire just when the sun was setting, welcoming the sun's spirit into the sacred fire, which would then represent both his own conscious spark and the spirit of the sun, the star that gave birth to the earth. Meanwhile the earth was turning away from the sun literally, cosmically while, at the same time, mythically, it was traveling through the underworld to be reborn! And this is also what he would be doing, experiencing his own night of the soul, as the child of the sun. At dawn he would allow the fire to release the sun's spirit and go out, and his body would have earned the balm of sleep.
How many people find mythic meaning in witnessing Manhattanhenge? Just asking.
Some part of me knows I am falling short, that I could do better, that I could have done better, on all fronts. And that even sitting here, writing, this is not what I could be writing, or should be writing. What could I be writing? (Is this memoir the best honey I can make?)
John Rachel  wrote a review for my last book, Healing the Land with Tao. That book was an honest attempt to align myself with the Tao, or to go back over the previous year and see how, at times, on some level, I was living in balance even though there was plenty that happened, that I was living, that was not in Tao. And I think that's what's behind those people going out of their way to witness Manhattanhenge. For that short passage of cosmic time, they are in Tao. And I think that means that their souls are happy, even if they don't know exactly why it is meaningful, or if they are doing it just to post on Facebook or Instagram. I thanked John for taking the trouble to post his review now that my book has become available and he wrote back: Your vision, your work, your book deserve all the attention we can bring. John is a kindred spirit; he is also trying to find himself in time.
He talks about his long disappointing journey as a student of philosophy, or student of the mind, as a kind of addiction. "I eventually recovered. Now I've settled into merely being a materialist. That's not 'materialistic'. I'm far from that, trust me. But I live and function primarily -- we're talking 99.9999% -- in a material world. In my crucial formative years, science was with exponential leaps proving its potency. Relativism -- modulated by logical positivism -- was the new black. Empiricism won the day. Computers would eventually eliminate grey with the efficacy of binary. Now the God Particle joins the other billiard balls on the cosmic pool table and blockchain is even redefining what money is. I should regress to reading Tarot cards? I didn't in the least miss the rabbits foot I had lost as a boy. Now I had a iPad.
Yep, I'm hooked. Smitten. Sold. Even if it doesn't produce a very charming death bed scene, I'll go with science over seance. Magic and miracles are for the desultory denialists and the leisurely lulled.
So . . .
This is what I brought to the game as I began to work my way through Healing the Land with Tao, looking for places to insert my toes and outcroppings for my fingertips, so I could begin the healing climb. I wasn't even sure I wanted to do this. Was there a view at the top?
But hallelujah! Because Gary Lindorff is so lucid, his writing so accessible, much to my surprise and relief I found I didn't need any special skills, footholds and finger-friendly features, much less safety nets or rapelling gear.