Of Mines and Experiments

English: Image of American philosopher/poet Ra...

Image of Ralph Waldo Emerson. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s a phrase writers should certainly live and die by. Stagnation is, after all, the death of art, complacency the the great oppressor of the self. Without change, without experiment, there is no learning, and if we aren’t spending this life learning–what exactly are we doing?

Of course, to actually survive in this atrocious economy (can’t scribble if you’re dead, right?), that concept of experimentation is just as important for the job market. That said, I’ll be undertaking my own little experiment starting this week. Training, training, training…and underground, too. I recently took on a mining job up in Colorado’s lovely stretch of the Rockies, and while it’s certainly an abrupt shift from both my passion and my usual, I certainly hope there will be a lot to take away from it after a hard day. More insight into the underground for my scribbling, for one thing; a whole bigger dose of patience and endurance for another.

Will it be hard? Yes. Will I have less time for my real passions? Yes. Will blog posts likely take a hit over time? Almost certainly.

But I will have powerful new experiences to draw from, steady work, and undoubtedly, a whole bunch of good stories to tell.

I’m ready. Are you? Start churning the wheels in that head of yours. Think of some new matter you could turn to this month, anything, and make it so…you never know what might come of it.

Lead mining, upper Mississippi River

Mining… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Time for a Change

“He who rejects change is the architect of decay.  The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.” 
~Harold Wilson

Change is pretty much the word of the week for this little writer. Shiny new apartment change begins on Saturday. Expenses are soon to be changing. Plus, new reviews on the book are supposed to be coming in–a nice bit of the warm fuzzy (hopefully) to balance out the expenses part of the change equation. The sum? The continued shift into reality continues…though I must say I’d prefer to continue living in my fantasy world.

Because more bills are never fun.

And in a fantasy world, you can probably ride a gryphon. You know, if it doesn’t eat your face off.

A Heraldic griffin Passant.

Yeah. I want one. (Heraldic Griffin. Image credit: Wikipedia)

Food for thought.

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.”
~Anatole France

Poetic Spotlight: Change upon Change

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, image care of Wikimedia Commons

I know I’ve been bad…all week and no poetics for you. What can I say? Packing’s certainly taken its toll on my time, and the remainder’s been filled with parting meals with friends, last minute work assignments, and the like. Rare have been the moments where I could just sit and breathe. This morning has presented one such opportunity, however, so while it’s not one of my own, I’d like to continue our new tradition of “Poem of the Week” with a piece by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Browning was one of the most accomplished and prominent poets of the Victorian era, and wife to the equally famous Robert Browning. Over the years, she has inspired many other famous poets as well…Edgar Allen Poe and Emily Dickinson among them. Today, keeping in pace with all the hustle and bustle about here, and all the changes coming to life at the moment, I share with you her work, “Change upon Change.”

Five months ago the stream did flow,
The lilies bloomed within the sedge,
And we were lingering to and fro,
Where none will track thee in this snow,
Along the stream, beside the hedge.
Ah, Sweet, be free to love and go!
For if I do not hear thy foot,
The frozen river is as mute,
The flowers have dried down to the root:
And why, since these be changed since May,
Shouldst thou change less than they.

And slow, slow as the winter snow
The tears have drifted to mine eyes;
And my poor cheeks, five months ago
Set blushing at thy praises so,
Put paleness on for a disguise.
Ah, Sweet, be free to praise and go!
For if my face is turned too pale,
It was thine oath that first did fail, —
It was thy love proved false and frail, —
And why, since these be changed enow,
Should I change less than thou.”

~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The Day Egypt Bled

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
~John F. Kennedy

“When dictatorship is a fact, revolution becomes a right.”
~Victor Hugo

I have spoken before of Egypt. Now, the journalist and the human in me bades me speak again. There are other voices. I pray you go to them as read them as well. Many are more informed than I, I will admit. I am simply one American, who sees what is going on far from his own home, and touched and stricken by the force behind it, am compelled to dwell on it for a time.

Pain has come to Egypt. Last night was the breaking point, in many ways. After millions of protesters flooded the streets of Cairo, and many other cities across Egypt, President Mubarak came on state TV to address their concerns. True to form, the man fell short in his appeasement. He said he would not run again in a year – but that is a year from now. One can change their mind easily when the pressure shifts away from them again. He would not step down until then, however. He even went so far as to say he would die on Egyptian soil. That just seems like poor foreshadowing to me.

Image from/by Al Jazeera.

The crowds erupted. There was a cry for a march on Mubarak’s palace for Friday. Through it all, the army stood by, maintaining neutrality, defending the property and the rights and the history their country adored. Then today, violence erupted in the streets.

Pro-Mubarak protesters, be they thugs of his or acting of their own accord, rode into Tahrir Square in Cairo, the heart of the protests. They beat anti-government protesters, to the tune of hundreds injured. From buildings above, they showered them with rocks and molotovs. Gunfire echoed through the streets and on the cameras of Al Jazeera’s live-cast. It was reported these crowds were howling for blood – that they were hunting Al Jazeera reporters, attacking others – Anderson Cooper among them (for my fellow Americans). The army, which had ringed the square, has effectively trapped protesters. Even if they wanted to leave, they could not, and that has left them easy pickings for the pro-Mubarak mobs. The Egyptian Museum was firebombed. The army struggled to put it out. Their own history, and culture, was suddenly at risk.

Revolution, as so often is the case, has led to blood. Even those with peaceful intent seem to be forced to it. Faced with a peaceful resistance to their reign, wicked men oft-turn to violent ends, to undermine their peace, or destroy them utterly. There are reports an army APC has now fired tracers into the air, and that the pro-Mubarak mobs are retreating…but for how long? Will the army finally get involved…and if so, how?

There are many questions left unanswered.

Most importantly: do the Egyptian protests hold a chance? They have already accomplished much – but can they force the dictator from his seat? I fear we may see a case here of what happens when people without guns challenge those that do. And it’s never good. With Tahrir Square, my mind keeps snapping to images of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, when British troops slaughtered Indian protesters during their own push for independence. Terrifying to think of, but is it beyond Mubarak?

So why do protesters not simply go home?

  • Because we have seen that their efforts can work. Recently. Look at Tunisia. The Jasmine Revolution. They rose against a strongman. They won.
  • Because of what it means to the region. The surge of democratic sentiment in Egypt is not solitary. Protests have also rocked the Sudan, Yemen and Jordan. Jordan’s King has capitulated with protesters, firing his cabinet and ordering a new prime minister for the people. Even in Syria, where the powerful President Assad reigns, there is growing talk of anti-government protests. Turkey is supporting protesters. Saudi Arabia has vehemently called for Mubarak to quash protesters.

There is a precedent being set here, and all the Middle East is invested. Change is on the move – but what will come of it?

These are among those rare moments – where things move all too quickly, and the world is set to spinning. One knows not where things will lead. But we can hope this isn’t a fleeting dream. We can hope hope doesn’t end in blood.

To Whom it May Concern

Destiny

Quite the rest for me

Put far from mine own hand

A tourist in a foreign land.

Fate

May invoke a wait;

Still, not quite the range

Or any real sense of change.

Independence

Quite the instance;

Do what you will

Any need fulfill.

Freedom

Is quite random

But worry, worry

Leaves the future quite so blurry.

Decisions, decisions.