We're Made of Mud and Magic

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What the “a”?

The Greek letter a When I was a kid, I had a strong preference for reading, crafting – solitary activities. I was a reluctant participant in birthday parties, organized clubs, and group activities. My mother used to accuse me of being “anti-social”, but being a reader of books beyond my age group, I knew from quite young that that term carried the burden of misanthropy and hostility towards people that I simply didn’t have. I didn’t hate people or social society; I simply didn’t care to participate. At about 8 years old, I told my Mom I was “asocial”, but I think the distinction was lost on her.

 

From the Ancient Greek ἀ- (a-), meaning “without”:

 

Asocial, apolitical, asexual, amoral, agnostic, apathetic… atheist. An “a” that negates without reacting against. An “a” that creates neutral ground between the pro- and the anti-. An “a” that takes no sides; that simply doesn’t care to participate at all.

 

Considered in those terms, I am perhaps not so much agnostic – without interest in spiritual knowledge – as I am more atheistic – without interest in god(s).

 

I’ve just taken the compost out and I’m standing in my driveway, looking at the moon. I am captivated by its beauty, which is amplified by countless generations of myths and poems and enlivened by scientific knowledge. I connect to my ancestors who saw the same moon and to all the people that see the same moon. I am so small in the context of all the time behind and time ahead and space all around, and I am so large in being part of the web of life. I am the universe seeing itself and I am but a flicker in its great story. I feel wonder and awe and my feet, cold in my thin slippers. I am grateful for the moment. If what I send out is a prayer, it is to the pull of the moon and the beauty of the night and the convergence of everything that gave me that moment. If there’s a god there, it is one that is larger than a personality and smaller than a power and more diffuse than a name.

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