L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


The perseverance, the adaptability, of nature is quite remarkable. Hiking in Forest Park last week, I came across this tree.

It's difficult to tell from the video, but the trunk grows right at the edge of a steep slope. Upward, only briefly, it then grows horizontally for some time before heading straight up again, to a great height. There was another part of the tree that is now gone. It apparently forked near the base. That section of the tree, the diameter of which seems larger than the part that is still alive, appears to have died and fallen; at least, all that's left is a jagged stump. Still a part of the whole, though. And then there are the odd arm-like connections, moss-covered, looping up and over. Linking. All together, this tree, this structure, tells a story. A story of striving. Whatever attacked it, whatever suppressed it, it found a way to go on. To adapt and go on living.

It's trite and maybe just a little simple-minded to make the obvious, expected comparisons between man and nature. But, as man is a part of nature - mostly unwittingly, uncooperatively - it's only reasonable to reflect on this. Things live, struggle, and die. Everything, all of us. That tree that has survived so much, will still eventually die. I will die. Most of us, if we give much reasoned thought to it, hope for a quick, easy, dignified death. A graceful exit. But until we get there, we have life to contend with, to struggle with. I used to think that other people got through life more easily than I, more fluidly. But I realize, more and more, that everyone struggles - hard - traveling along the path of their lives. To overcome. To endure. To become. If you could make a picture, a sculpture, of the struggle of people's lives, it might look something like that tree trunk. That tortured, ridiculous, beautiful thing. Just as I can see the beauty in the contortions of this gnarled, still-growing survivor, I need to try harder to recognize the beauty in the struggle of others. To remember how touched I am, how lightened I am, by this statement made of living wood: Life is struggle, and the struggle is beautiful.