Of Earth and the Heavens

NASA: Spiral galaxy

I had a conversation on Twitter this weekend with David B Dale, an author who writes entire novels in 299 words or less.

The conversation started with my mentioning I’d been reading the stories of Jorge Luis Borges.  I knew this was a dangerous alley to enter, but I walked in anyway; discussing fiction always leads to my wanting to do nothing but curl up and read all day.  And so, as our conversation wound from Borges to the works of one of my favorite writers, Italo Calvino, I began pulling book after book off my shelf, browsing through favorite passages – a pure delight for someone whose life is, in great part, words and stories and writing.

But this post is not about fiction, nor is it about writing. It is about creating the future.

And it all starts in one of the fantastic cities Calvino imagines in his work Invisible Cities – the city of Andria.

The city’s calendar is so regulated that jobs and offices and ceremonies are arranged in a map corresponding to the firmament on that date: and thus the days on earth and the nights in the sky reflect each other…

“Our city and the sky correspond so perfectly,” they answer, “that any change in Andria involves some novelty among the stars.”

As for the character of Andria’s inhabitants, two virtues are worth mentioning: self-confidence and prudence.  Convinced that every innovation in the city influences the sky’s pattern, before taking any decision they calculate the risks and advantages for themselves and for the city and for all worlds.”

First, I love the image. Every single time I read the two-page passage that describes the imaginary city of Andria, it takes my breath away.

Secondly, though, and to the point of this blog:

Imagine making every decision knowing it will affect eternity!

Notice I didn’t say, “Imagine each of your decisions would affect eternity.”  We already know that is true. We are creating the future with everything we do.

But instead, imagine making decisions always mindful of the fact that we have far more power than we could ever dream possible. That we are the ones we have been waiting for. That we are the future, because we are creating that future, right now.

And so as I read and re-read that story this weekend, I said aloud the words I say every time I read those pages. “Imagine how we might make our decisions if we knew each and every action would affect the very stars in the sky.”

Photo credit: NASA

5 Responses to Of Earth and the Heavens

  1. Aren’t you a sweetheart to mention our conversation here! Thank you, Hildy. I love Calvino too, who probably influences my thinking more than I know. Either that, or I only find in his stories echoes of what I already believe. I have written on the topic of how the past influences the present and future myself, in a story you may have seen. In my invisible city, the past is so alive for the residents they can barely move without stepping on an inviolable anniversary. How often do we do this to ourselves, I wonder, boxing ourselves in so that our choices for today are dangerously constrained? http://wp.me/p1JoF-4t

  2. Hildy – thanks for this. I often think about how my decisions to NOT ACT affect eternity as well.

    As Dylan said, we’re either busy being born or busy dying.

  3. David and John:
    Both your comments are so thoughtful – what a gift as the very first thing I see this morning!

    I could write reams, exploring the questions each of you pose. Wow – thank you both!
    HG

  4. Hildy,

    This reminds me of the Buckminster Fuller quote: “If success or failure of the planet and of human beings depended on how I am and what I do… How would I be? What would I do?”

    The “stars in the sky” phrasing is much more evocative and beautiful, though.

  5. Pace:
    I should have known you were a Bucky fan. Thanks for sharing that quote – his work is such an inspiration!!!!
    HG