Archive for the ‘Cycles’ Category

Dust Particles In A Shaft Of Light

March 10, 2015 8 comments

light and dust

A beam of sunlight filters in through an open window of a room bathed in shadow. The air is still. In the ray of light, dust particles bounce off of one another, illuminated. The fine concentration of light is filled with tiny, radiant specs that are suspended in space, and yet, in motion: floating, shimmering, tumbling together, touching, separating, touching once more.

The physics of it does not matter. The dust-air interaction does not matter. Brownian motion does not matter. Lucretius’ remarkable vision poem of atoms randomly moving in an infinite universe does not matter. Nor does Einstein’s explanation of it. Here’s what matters: You can see it. It is the dust of the world, dazzling in the light.

This is your whole life, right here, right now, contained and elevated, in the ephemeral ray of light pouring in. And you tell yourself: this is the dust of me, the dust around me, what I breathe in, what I breathe out. The dust is filled with thoughts, memories. Mine, yours. Dust from old books. Dust of letters I’ve opened, of papers torn. Dust from my son’s drawings. Dust from cars as their tires leave behind bits of journeys that float through my window, into the beam. Dust of a tissue from my mother’s purse. Dust of my cats, here, and then not here, alive in an eternal way, I suppose, luminous in this narrow beam. Tears evaporate and find their way into the shining zig zag motion. Cherish what you have, and what you have lost. Look for it all, shimmering and tumbling, as dust particles in a shaft of light.

dust particles in light

Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt. ~Kurt Vonnegut
RIP, kitty

beautiful kitty

tica and kitty


The Lamb and the Black Moon

February 18, 2015 2 comments

sheep year

Fire, earth, metal, water, wood, each their own element, each birthing the next, ceaselessly turning together in a black and white pinwheel swirl. It is the Taoist yin yang in its true spinning form, not the static symbol we are familiar with. The world is poured into that circle. It is the center of the things. Circles within circles, expressed in the bagua. Life is hard. Life is soft. Life is life in its ever evolving spin.

Within this cosmology are cycles of time: hours, days, months, seasons, years. Years are marked in a cycle of twelve animals, called earthly branches. And the branches combine with the ten heavenly stems, providing an associated yin or yang energy for the five elements. Each year, the animal has either a yin or yang stem with its element.

This Chinese Lunar New Year arrives at midnight, February 19, 2015. It ushers in the Year of the Sheep. The sheep is the eighth animal in the cycle. In Chinese, the number 8 symbolizes abundance, the word for eight is “Ba”. How sheeplike. It is said the sheep is gentle and calm, representing harmony, solidarity. And the stem, yin wood, has the making for a even mellower year, soft as a lamb.

There is also a Black Moon on Chinese New Year’s eve. It’s a new moon and a Super Moon. There are usually three new moons in one season, between a solstice and equinox. When four occur in one season, as is the case now, the third moon is called a black moon.

In honor of Chinese New Year, there is a live webcast with views of the moon hosted by Slooh Community Observatory. It begins February 19, 8PM. Watch it here.

Gong Xi Fa Cai. Happy New Year.


space reporter


October 24, 2014 5 comments

©Toni Tan

I see it, a story told in the ephemeral nature of color. It’s impossible not to look, but I close my eyes, and listen. It’s the sound of change. Autumn calling out in its rustling and rain of leaves when the wind blows. I want to remember it. Not just see it, but feel it. On a fall day enveloped in grey mist, a flash of red leaves will interrupt the fog, burning through the space. On a brighter autumn day, sunshine moving through the leaves is as illuminating as enlightenment.

Change is forever our status. Fluidity in time and space, the flow of the circle. We don’t think about change, but sometimes something shakes you into awareness: a birth, a death, or the brief and brilliant leaves coming loose from their branches.

This is part of the cyclical design. Trees are actively cutting off their leaves in a survival process: abscission. As days of autumn fade into cold temps and less sunlight, trees reabsorb nutrients from their leaves. This includes chlorophyll and deprived of it, leafy greenness gives way to color. The leaf shedding allows trees to pull in energy and get through winter. It is a cycle of conservation. And sacrifice. The trees grow new skin over every spot where a leaf once was. The trees will live. The leaves will not, but they are making a grand exit.

Nature shows us tangible, real-time change. Change endlessly seeking balance. Here’s a truth about nature, from the Tao: “heaven and earth are ruthless.” Sometimes brutal. Sometimes bittersweet. Life bulldozes through its bleakness – its broken rocks and its broken hearts and its bankruptcy. It’s a dusty path that leads to more busted rocks and broken hearts. More loss. Loss and gain. Gain too, because it’s a green path as well. Life dances through its brightness – its beauty and its bounty. Hearts and moons waxing to full, emptying, filling. A spectrum from bleak to bright.

Energy is always moving. A seed planted, a harvest reaped. Growth, decay, growth. A mended fence. A broken window. Repair. Despair. Gain. Loss. Life. The ever evolving permutation of things swirling in the yin yang pinwheel. We live, survive, thrive, fail, fly.

There’s a red arrow on the map: You are here on this autumn day. And everything is changing. The leaves animate the space. Vivid. Vibrant. Radiant. For now.

Toni Tan

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