Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I get why Thales fell in a well

I get why Thales fell in a well. The stars invented the word mesmerize for their own use.

I fling the kitchen trash bag in to the garbage can outside and crane my head back. The Milky Way, Orion's Belt, the dippers, whatever stencil you want to put over the night sky.

Philosophers and poets are kids, still fascinated by stars and clouds; still at home with their backs on the cool grass, their eyes searching, trying to make sense of the sky.

Thales is credited as the first Greek philosopher, before Socrates (pronounced "So-crates," Bill and Ted style), Plato or Aristotle who posterity came to know better. Thales, the story goes, was walking, eyes to the sky, and fell into a well, not paying any mind to where he was going.

You can think Thales a fool (history says otherwise) or you can envy his focus, his commitment to his sense of wonder. Philosophy and poetry both begin in wonder, expanding on Aristotle's notion.

When I take the trash out on a clear night, I get Thales. I'm glad there's not a well near our sidewalk.

1 comment:

Kelly McMullen said...

this is rad. really gripping, really well-written. Thanks!