IMG_0727The tiny of quantum holds us together,
while the huge of relativity pulls us apart.
The taut in-between is pure chaos,
and that surely is ours and ours alone,
‘I’ versus ‘us’—choose wisely.

From dawn’s touch to dusk’s demise,
tiny grows to huge as vivid turns to gloom
in the day/night mapping of each hope.
We are, at best, always on the tipping point,
drawn by strange attractors buried deep
in the bone and in our past and future.
And although they have pulled us together,
they have split us and broken us repeatedly,
until we can barely stand it,
and just when we need us the most.
They say, in balance, to ‘live in the moment,’
but to be honest, sometimes I think
we have enough just to live in the scale.
Choose wisely.


In the 20th century there were three great scientific breakthroughs that are both staggeringly profound and utterly beautiful: 1) the development of quantum mechanics, the study of the fundamental, subatomic particles that all creation is made of, 2) general relativity, Einstein’s geometric understanding of gravity in the space-time continuum, and, 3) chaos theory, the study of dynamic systems that are highly effected by initial conditions and which, while determined by those conditions, are yet not predictable over time.

The noteworthy point of these three theories is that the first deals with the infinitely small and the second with the infinitely large, scales of size which we can imagine but not experience. It is the third concept, chaos, that we can perceive and study on the human scale. We are surrounded by chaotic systems, the weather and the climate being the most obvious examples. But chaos hits even closer to home: chaotic driven processes build and operate our entire body, as indeed, they do for all nature. Chaotic systems seem random, but often are not; most tend to move toward centralized states referred to as ‘strange attractors.’

If you are as intrigued by this concept as I am, a very good book for the general public (no math needed) is Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick. I recommend it highly.

Anyway, back to the poem. As I was thinking of all this, I got to wondering how chaos could be conceived of in our emotional and spiritual lives…

Thank you for reading Soulfullness. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken at a farm stand in Pennsylvania.To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh blog.


Photograph, notes and poem © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © John Etheridge, The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its copyright owner.


Filed under Poetry

15 responses to “Soulfullness

  1. So eloquently thoughtful, John.

  2. Cher Kapelner Champ

    As always your poetry & photos are most inspiring John. Pain does create depth, & as we live through what it is that makes up our lives if discovery & art are it’s byproducts then it’s outcomes along with the experiences are forever precious.
    Thank you John for your thought provoking work.

  3. Dealing with such abstract and scientific concepts, yet melding it with the emotions of relations so well. The first part came easy for me, the second part always missing. Great poem. And chaos theory had just an impact on my paradigm, can’t begin to discuss it here.

  4. markrenney1

    Great work John.

  5. Beautifully penned… Highly metaphorical!. All my best wishes. Aquileana ⭐