Whenever I try to analyze a situation or a perception, I inevitably return to my initial assumptions and question why things are considered right or wrong, or how subject and object are differentiated. After consideration, it becomes apparent that all qualifications and symbologies are relative; we ascribe meaning independently, and it is impossible to correlate two experiences.

For example, the color I call “green” has a certain effect on me: after photons vibrating in that particular range of frequencies excite sensors in my eyes, specific neurons in my retinas fire the “green” signal to my brain, where cognitive functions map associated memories of stimuli to the concept of “green” that I have developed. It is this concept that is relative, influenced by my unique life.

I have experienced vast radioactive-green fields of freshly grown hills, dotted with pastel wildflowers. The smell of grass takes me back to mowing the lawn innumerable times, pouring pungent gasoline into the tank and avoiding the blades. I would mow around jasmine with sickly green foliage, its crinkled star flowers releasing scents like a woman on the prowl. Great forests of evergreen redwood tower above the highway as my father and I travel north along the Pacific coast, the virgin lines of trees interrupted by raped acres of destruction.

The concept of green in my mind will forever be tinged by specific associations that your mind does not share. In fact, the experience of the color itself could be completely different between our brains; the shade I “see” in my mind’s eye as green, you might see as blue. Thus, I find it preposterous that anyone could begin to declare anything as the “truth” or “right”, considering the infinite gradation of nuance inherent in every real situation. I think the great crisis of intellect in our age is the clash and reconciliation of relativism and absolutism. It’s time to start realizing that what we think is concrete and set in stone is probably fluid in meaning. See the color, and hold on to every memory, because you may never feel it the same way again.

Lassen Peak at Kings Creek

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A prophet on the burning shore