One of Us

Still rare among the stars that drift
around us, we who live
now hold this strange and special gift
this planet has to give.

Let’s now unveil this gift and see
it unify somehow
the many games of entropy
and make them one here now.

The gift of life is incarnate
in every one of us
who now here breathe and meditate
between those worlds of dust.

The deepening tranquillity
of meditative rest
lets us behold the mystery
with which we all are blessed.

In all of us, a unity,
sustained by games that run
in all their multiplicity,
makes out of many one.

Within us now, the interplay
of games in us gives rise
to one uniting process they
are part of and comprise.

It’s present simultaneously
in both our hands and feet
and every cell within the three
dimensions of our meat.

This process keeps proceeding forth
through all the time it thrives,
in every moment in the fourth
dimension of our lives.

This process, ever-happening
until the day we die,
propels us onward, travelling
through moments passing by.

The Now we now experience
is one ephemeral
brief point in lives that, in a sense,
are four-dimensional.

Let’s feel our lives stretch out upon
our lifespans as they stream
past moments we remember on
to future ones we dream.

As simply as we breathe, we know
this life we now here feel
has travelled, some short while ago,
through moments just as real.

There was a moment we arrived
at this place here somehow.
Since we were there and we survived,
our lives include that now.

The lives we lead have streamed right through
this day and so we can
now trace along them backwards to
the time today began.

Our lives extend beyond today,
beyond what’s now and here.
We feel them stretch through yesterday,
last week, last month, last year.

Where were we seven years ago?
What did we feel and do
in all the moments we still know
and all the others, too?

Our lives include these moments and
yet we are not confined
to single moments – we extend
and grow through time entwined.

Through every moment we have seen,
a single process thrusts.
The momentary selves we’ve been
are all just one, just us.

Relaxed, with mindfulness and ease,
we effortlessly can
go past our oldest memories
to where our lives began.

Still tracing back, our lives escape
through many days and rooms
to when and where we first took shape
within our mothers’ wombs.

Before we could breathe separately,
our lives have all begun
protected in a pregnancy
when two lives breathed as one.

Now even though these months may seem
like where we came about,
they’re only where our mothers’ streams
of life were branching out.

The life we’re feeling presently,
our mothers felt themselves.
Life flows in continuity.
It’s older than ourselves.

Now those of us with siblings know
them too as branches where
the gift of life that lets us grow
branched out and grew from there.

Though siblings must grow separately,
we also understand
they’re branches of a single tree,
like fingers on a hand.

And here the journey need not end.
We might as well bring in
our mothers’ mothers, cousins and
our somewhat further kin.

And they in turn had parents too
and families, so they
give us more distant cousins who
live out there now today.

To know someone is family,
that someone’s one of us,
may stir a sense of loyalty,
connectedness or trust.

But families reach deep and wide.
The ones we each are in
have branches spreading far outside
their ancient origin.

Like us, they’re branches, other tracks
life grows across this Earth
since ancestors of us had sex
and gifted them with birth.

We all have relatives out there
that we have never known,
who breathe and live their lives somewhere,
as real as our own.

In four dimensions, we connect
through lines of ancestry.
The life within us streams in fact
through branches of a tree.

We each have lines of ancestry
that reach back far and they
include both slaves and royalty,
both predators and prey.

Each human ancestry extends
through many centuries,
through long-forgotten, distant lands
on strange and ancient seas.

In tracing back, each separate course
eventually must
converge in common ancestors
of every one of us.

The ancestors all humans share
are why humanity
is all related – we are their
extended family.

These ancient ties of kinship mean
that everyone who lives,
all humans we have ever seen
have been our relatives.

Descended from the same old apes
who learned to cook and sing
and worked towards the cityscapes
we’re now inhabiting.

The primates we’re descended from
were not so erudite,
but they are why we all have come
to live and walk upright.

And they had other children, too.
We’ve grown apart and thus
they’re different apes and primates who
are relatives of us.

We share with them a lineage
to which we owe our use
of tools and one shared heritage
with monkeys and with shrews.

All that’s within the family
of four-legged creatures who
despite their huge diversity
are all our cousins too.

That’s still not all: We’re free to go
still deeper if we wish.
Four hundred million years ago,
our ancestors were fish.

It truly is astonishing
how one unbroken line
of life links us with everything
out there that has a spine.

Still older ancestors, like worms
and squishy things in shells
connect us with life’s oldest forms,
confined to single cells.

We breathe, as all of them have breathed
since ancient cells back then
invented, savored and bequeathed
the use of oxygen.

Our common DNA confirms
the common ancestries
of all of life on Earth, from germs
to mushrooms, bugs and trees.

Our tree of life finds root in when,
at some primordial spot,
the first thing that did live began
from something that did not.

That’s where reaction chains once curled
themselves in cycles so
the root of life could grace this world
four billion years ago.

Since then, its offshoots never ceased
to spread and branch. They won
this planet every plant and beast
and we now breathe upon.

Life branched and found a wealth of ways
to spread throughout this world
that now our meditative gaze
reveals to us unfurled.

All life is one big family
comprised of everyone,
four billion years of history
of species come and gone.

So when we meet, we’re pretty much
just parts of one big form,
like branches of a tree that touch
each other in a storm.

In four dimensions, life is one
forever-branching force,
small parts of which have now begun
to understand its course.

The present seems to separate
life’s branches like a knife.
Beyond it, we who meditate
here now are all one life.

This life that breathes in us just
leads far beyond the small
lives led by every one of us.
Let’s try and feel it all.

Life’s countless branches can be found
within the boundless seas,
upon and deep within the ground
and flying on the breeze.

What lives in them is life itself.
All plants, all beasts, all swarms
of bugs are part of life’s great wealth
of evanescent forms.

Whatever living things may do,
they all need life to lend
its ancient, massive strength unto
each talon, claw and hand.

Whatever mouths and snouts and beaks
of living things discuss,
it’s all the same old life that speaks
through every one of us.

From all our eyes, one life looks out
at all the games it plays.
On all our feet, life walks about
on paths through time and space.

With all our leaves, life drinks the sun,
producing nutrients,
with all our mouths, it moves them on
to their recipients.

So what it means to be alive
is being part of this,
of life itself that will survive
ourselves and live no less.

This meditation may reveal
to us now breathing here
a sense of awe in which we feel
we are this biosphere.

Our selves and all the lives we meet,
in friendship or in strife,
are parts of something more complete
that’s us as one as life.

Since we are life, all lives we’ve known
are parts of us and thus
if we are one, we’re all alone.
There’s only one of us.

To ever meet another one,
our branches must grow long.
This planet Earth where we’ve begun
is not where we belong.

Earth gave all life its place of birth,
but it’s not built to last.
Of all the time life gets on Earth,
most has already passed.

In just another billion years,
the sun that rules our sky
grows bright, Earth’s water disappears
and all life here will die.

And that means us. We’re not distinct
from what our growing star
will boil to death and force extinct
unless life spreads out far.

In having felt the family
through which we all connect,
we know that life is certainly
a thing we must protect.

As each of us is one more face
of life behind us all,
its need to travel out through space
is truly personal.

Life must keep sprouting interlinked
new branches and disperse
from world to world, or go extinct
from all this universe.

Just like our ancestors who built
the world we know today,
we’ll have the glory or the guilt
of what we leave to stay.

We may destroy ourselves and doom
the Earth where we were born
to merely be a dreadful tomb
with no one left to mourn.

Or rise to meet infinity,
as lifeforms that succeed
ourselves pervade the galaxy
with Earth as their first seed.

And if we help life spread and last,
its many future forms
will know us as their distant past,
like apes and fish and worms.

So many future aeons hence,
beneath an alien sun,
they might remember Earth as lands
of legend long since gone.

How will they see their ancestry?
What shall it mean to stem
from us and hold the legacy
and gifts we give to them?

Whichever paths they choose to go,
if ever they discuss
the gift of life in them, they’ll know
they each are one of us.