If ever there was a time to use the word, koyaanisqatsi, it’s now. From the Hopi language, koyanaanis/turmoil and qatsi/life, it also can mean life out of balance and also a state of life that calls for another way of living. Perhaps the word rings familiar because of Godfrey Reggio’s 1982 film opus with music by Philip Glass.
As catastrophic natural events cause devastating damage effecting millions of people and, in some cases, changing the landscape and lifestyles of residents forever, the geo-political rhetoric is, by itself, verbal disintegration of civil society to put it mildly. Lobbing verbal threats of nuclear war back and forth across the Pacific supports a dis-ease globally, not to mention the environmental implications. An unbalanced time indeed.
Koi is the header for this season, moving into the quiet of autumn, when, in my neighborhood of the northern hemisphere, the natural world drifts into a dormant state. As a gardener, it’s a form of relief. Weeds sleep too.
Koi symbolize a life force in several Asian cultures. Revered by the Japanese, the colored carp, as the word nishikigol means, represent an intense creature (in some mythology turning into the all powerful dragon) that also drifts in mesmerizing patterns through the water. They also swim upstream demonstrating great strength. So symbols include, good fortune, success, longevity, prosperity, courage, ambition and perseverance.
The photo of these koi were taken at the Santa Fe campus of St. John’s College, a four year college that provides study in the classics, or as they call it, “Great Books.” The curriculum, essentially identical for each student, begins with the Greek philosophers and moves through the canon until the present. This includes language, literature and mathematics. It’s a brilliant choice for the right student.
In the midst of our chaotic times, it’s worth taking a moment to look back, reflect on early thinkers, those who questioned why we are here, what is truth, and the value of honor. Plato is a good place to start. Consider his observation: “Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.”
In small ways, we all have the capability to create balance in our lives, and in doing so, influence the lives of others. It’s important to acknowledge actions that are not publicized, or tweeted, posted or written up in any way. Do not minimize the importance of each life. Beginning with your own.
By the way, the movie, Koyaanisqatsi, is fantastic.