We find ourselves in a world that is already planted, but is also still being planted as at first. We say of some plants that they grow in wet places. The truth may be that their seeds are scattered almost everywhere, but in these places only do they succeed.—Henry David Thoreau, Faith in a Seed

At the eastern end of Lake Erie in winter
About the locale of Jamestown, New York,
Weather radar often shows
Seemingly stationary clouds
Constantly precipitating snow.

Closer inspection reveals that the snow bands
      off the eastern end of Erie in winter
            result from the presence of a geographically stable region
                  of the conditions correct
                        for condensing water out of sufficiently humid air,
                              constantly replenished by westerly wind off water,
And depositing it as snow.

Much in this way,
Human history never repeats
But what does recur
Are conditions sufficiently similar
      to drive apparently similar events,
Our human actions precipitating
      out of our Being
            exactly according to conditions
As naturally as rain.

Our bodies themselves
      are in effect precipitates
            from the lifelong staging of the series of events called Creature
                  according to the sequencing and metrics
                        of genetics
Heart, spleen, brain, hands
      taking shape and extent
            exactly according to instructions
                  as, and as long as, and whenever conditions—
                        sufficiency of energy and materials,
                              interaction with other creatures, substances, and energies—

It is therefore error to see a creature or any aspect of a creature
      as in any way fixed
Just as it is error to see the snow-bearing winter clouds east of Erie
      as in any way fixed.
Wherever conditions are correct for hand, there is hand
      and wherever conditions are correct for eye, there is eye
Just as wherever conditions are correct for star
      there is star
Transactions of and between matter and energy
Being neither creation nor destruction,
But forms of

What is the Wind
That bears your constituents as its humidity?
What are the regions in which you and your behaviors
      come to be
And the regions in which,
      the boundary conditions outside of which,
You cannot?
They are more stable and sharply defined
Than you may imagine.

And so what of the possibility,
      the mystery of the prospect
            of yet another flowering,
                  of teaching another to so see?
Laozi said,

What is a good man?
A teacher of a bad man.
What is a bad man?
A good man's charge.
If the teacher is not respected
And the student is not cared for,
Confusion will arise, however clever one is.
This is the crux of mystery.

Operating orthogonal to the artificial duality of Good versus Bad,
      consider instead
That wherever conditions are correct for Learning,
      there is Learning
That wherever conditions are correct for Love
      there is Love.

As for your role,
      if all of this seems facile,
            crushingly deterministic,
                  or both
That the vast planetwide success of the photosynthesizing plant—
      "Life," we would say, "without Creaturehood"—
            comes not from its altering its environment to suit it, but rather
                  from its living where it can,
                        and failing to thrive or dying where it cannot,
                              always seeking,
                                    turning to, intercepting

  1Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, 27, Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English, translators,
Vintage Books edition, 1972.
Other, unattributed text copyright © 2006 by David Newkirk (
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