When I was in high school and college, as is common for all of us at that time in our lives, I struggled to decide who I was to become. Would I be a scientist. I loved geology, astronomy, astrophysics, meteorology, paleontology, and so on. I did well in math and science.
But I also loved literature and language. And I had been writing since I was 11 years old.
Five books helped me see that there did not have to be a divide in me:
Narcissus and Goldmund by Hermann Hesse
Narcissus the left brained monk, Goldmund the right brained artist and vagabond, were really two halves of one mind.
Love and Will by Rollo May
This work taught me that love was an action of will, to oversimplify, and that a life is richer by action and contemplation being interwoven.
The Tao of Physics by Frijof Capra still causes some controversy for scientists who think mysticism is pure bunk and mystics who see science as antithetical to a spiritual life. Capra suggests a way that brings both together, as does:
The Dancing Wu-Li Masters by Gary Zukov.
This book “blew my mind” as we used to say. He does a fair job of translating what was the edge of physics in 1979 for the layperson.
The epiphany for me was that, while I had to choose among many career paths, and while I could only walk a handful of those career paths in my life, I did not have to choose between seeing through the eyes of science or the eyes of a poet.
The fifth book was The Tao te Ching
My verse continues to be an attempt to live my way within the Way and be true to both.
This poem, published along with three others by the Great River Review in 1978, marked my most successful experience with a journal. Its then editor, Emilio DeGrazia, saw what I was trying to do and valued it. Thank you Emilio. (The three other poems were “On the Pavement,” “Don’t Go Near the Edge” and “We Almost Caught the Turning.”)
So here, from that journal, is “He Reconciles the Scientist and Poet.”