Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Unbounded

"The Bounded is loathed by its possessor. The same dull round, even of a Universe, would soon become a Mill with complicated wheels."
William Blake said that, and I wrote a paper on it in college, about the concept of growth and change and eternal progression in Romantic Literature. Back then, I assumed Blake meant something like: "Without change, even the most vast expanse would feel confining." And it's true, life without expansion seems pointless. I welcome the idea in LDS theology of continuous progression through the eternities. But I wonder, too, what Blake meant by "bounded." As I read his statement again, I can see that it might also mean, "When examined minutely, something that at first seems dull or repetitive may reveal its complexity." Or even, "Our loathing of something only exists as long as we see that thing as 'bounded.'"

Honestly, I think the first meaning is the one Blake intended—but it's the second meaning I've been thinking about lately. For example: every time we go to Red Butte Garden, I wonder if this time it's going to seem less amazing. We've seen it so many times, and surely we've already seen the most beautiful it can be, so how can it keep delighting us? But of course, every time, it does. There are just so many little scenes to notice—a view through the trees that catches you by surprise; a strikingly orange group of daffodils; small patches of grape hyacinth that seem, surely, to be brighter than usual.
























I guess you could say that those things are interesting because they are different from year to year, though they're in same "bounded" space. But then, of course, there are the familiar scenes too; trees we know so well and paths we've run down so often, it seems we must have gone back in time—except that the people running down them are so much bigger than they used to be! And yet, even the repetition (though living things are never truly unchanging; still, in many ways each season comes in the same "dull round" from year to year) never seems dull in the garden. And I wonder why?

And that got me thinking about Mars. We've been learning about robotics for the last while, and one day we were looking at pictures taken by the Mars Rover, Curiosity. And I was so intrigued by them. You can see the tracks made by Curiosity as she rolls along, and you can watch her picking up dust in her little scoop for analysis. It all seems so…close! Like you could just look up and there would be the two moons in the sky, and those red mountains looming up on the horizon. It made me feel so curious and wistful. I want to go there! And it's the same with the pictures coming from the New Horizons spacecraft near Pluto. It's all so exciting! I want to explore, see it all for myself, and look at whatever I want instead of just what there happens to be a picture of! 

Then I was thinking how someday, someone might get to go to Mars, and I wish so much it could be me! But of course, it won't be me, because Mars would be wasted on me! Not that I wouldn't be interested, because I AM, but because I don't KNOW anything! I don't know how to look at the rock layers and extrapolate about geologic conditions. I don't know how to test the air for chemicals and figure out how to make adjustments for human life. I don't know what radiation readings mean for the timing of the loss of the magnetosphere. And those are the types of things that would make a Mars visit worthwhile.

And even though I am interested and I think I'd love to explore because it's all so new and different, I also think I have to admit that it wouldn't keep me endlessly interested. After the newness had worn off, it would probably all just seem like a dry, rocky desert to me. It would seem "bounded" and confining, like Blake's "same dull round," and I would stop getting pleasure from it.

But—here's where I think maybe that second meaning comes in—if I were a scientist? An expert on all those things like soil and the geology and the radiation? Then, I think a visit to Mars would seem vast and unbounded. In fact, I think the more I knew, the more unlimited would be the things I could learn about it! There would always be new experiments to try and new knowledge to discover, so the more engaged and interested I would be.

Anyway, I was wondering if that's how the celestial kingdom and eternal progression might be. That is, the difference will come not only from us suddenly being in this "unbounded" space—but because we will be able to see so much more deeply and fully even the things that previously DID seem "bounded." If we teach ourselves to seek for and desire all knowledge, then maybe nothing could seem boring to us! Whether it's Mars or a garden or another person, we will see the underlying complexity with such clarity that everything surrounding us will seem like a whole world, absorbing and fascinating and delightful. To someone who has learned to see like that (as I imagine God has), what could even BE "bounded"? He is "unbounded" by his very nature—in spite of whatever "bounds" he happens to accept.

I remember my Uncle Hale (a physicist like my Dad) telling me how he believed God could never be bored, and maybe this might be one reason why. I can catch a little glimpse of it when I visit a garden. Because I love the beauty of nature so much (and that love makes me notice more things about it), it would take me a long, long time to get bored in a garden, and I don't even know that much about flowers or gardening! So then when I think of a subject like my husband or my children—who I not only love, but have spent the last fourteen years practicing with and learning about and focusing on and nurturing—I can imagine a lifetime of being interested in them. Or even an eternity. Add in the amazing chance to learn about and shape the rest of the universe as well, and (for me, anyway) that would truly be an "unbounded" heaven, worth doing anything to reach. It sounds like I all I could ever desire. And I think getting there depends on my making myself (with God's help) into an "unbounded" sort of person—because otherwise, all the space in the universe won't seem like heaven to me.

And with that, here are some more pictures of Red Butte Garden. It is so lovely at this time of year! And even more lovely with these little sweeties in it. :)
This tree was so glorious. I kept trying to get a picture of the way the light came through and across the blossoms, and it kept changing as the clouds moved across the sky. So beautiful!
Nice view on the other side of the tree, too. :)
An inviting path.
Sunny little Daisy-dill
This picture is remarkable for the fact that not one child is in focus. Not one. How did I do that??! But we have a nice clear shot of the pine tree behind…
Since last year, Goldie has become a person! One who can run down a hill! She does it with a very odd expression on her face, though. Look closer:
Aaaa!
Pretty, wispy goldie-hair.
Being held up to see a squirrel. I love the way her little arm hugs around Sam.
June-bug. Dirty face. (We did have a picnic right before this.)
Tea party in the little house.
Runners and rollers. 
I told Malachi he was making a scary face, at which encouragement he made THIS even SCARIER face. Eeeek! So scary!
Everybody likes to push the stroller.
Theo, enjoying all the new things to look at!

Oh, these sunlit hills of daffodils. It makes me feel peaceful and happy just to look at them. I love the way the sun falls over the leaves.

And here we are starting to head home. Sweet double-Daisy. We'll be back at the garden again soon, I'm sure!

3 comments:

  1. Love love this idea so much and love the further thoughts you've had concerning it. I really liked this: "I think the more I knew, the more unlimited would be the things I could learm . . ." And I love how you carried that idea to so many things. It makes me want to see everything and everyone in this fascinating boundless way!!

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  2. Now I want to read the rest of his poem as that isn't how I read it at first glance. You have interesting ideas, Miss Marilyn.

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  3. I could imagine that the celestial kingdom is exactly the same space that everyone will occupy, but that those who have sought for boundedness - for its safety, or its limits on mental or physical demands, or who have defined the only reality they are willing to be faced with - these will sit still within the bounds they have set on what is acceptable life and knowledge and will never wish to see or feel the cathedral spaces of possibility around them. This is not what I expect to be the truth, as my concept of celestial is actually made, particle and fabric, out of the boundless connections we make in the temple - - but my little construct is actually all around us in this life - those who stay safe in areas that allow them to feel powerful, or comfortable, or satisfied, or right - and miss all the rest.

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