As the crickets’ soft autumn
is to us
so are we to the trees
as are they
to the rocks and the hills.
– Gary Snyder
I’ve done a lot of crying lately. Most of the time I want to run away from myself. So yesterday I took a road trip. I wanted to leave Tanja at home, on the couch and go with someone, who wasn’t me. The trip was short but on every step there was so much beauty lavishly heaped upon the world, that I could no longer bear it and broke down and cried some more. But I managed to compose myself pretty quickly, as I wanted to take it all in: all the brilliant colours, the crisp autumn smells, the rustling of the leaves, the quiet chirping of the birds starting to turn in. I wanted to put all of it in the bottom drawer of my heart, so that I could take it out in hard times.
Nature is the ultimate artist. She never tries to be the greatest, to beat all others, or to impress. She is just living out her life with 100% intensity and that’s why she succeeds again and again to create peerless beauty.
I finally got to see the pear trees. I had heard so much about them from my parents and they indeed are stunning: real trees, old trees, gnarled and serene. I hugged each one of them, leaning my cheek against the warm, fragrant bark. I was happy. I was complete. For a couple of blissful moments I was serene too. I felt love radiating both ways. I firmly believe in our relationship and communication with that which is not human. It is a precarious situation to participate almost exclusively with humans and human-made technologies. We still need that, which is not ourselves or made by ourselves. I know for myself that I crave the sensuous intimate relationship with more-than-human world, I hunger to get a glimpse of more-than-human mysteries. And yesterday, only by leaning against those old trees my craving was appeased.
I picked three pears from the ground. They were shrivelled, speckled and beautiful. But as soon as I put them in my pocket, I started to feel guilty. I was stealing, I was being a thief! I don’t want to think about human ownership of nature and trees and water…I think that trees belong to themselves, to birds and wasps and to the little bugs behind the bark. To the wind too. Yet still, I returned two of the pears and took the remaining one with me. It sits on the window sill in my room. I want to keep it here because I feel that with it I brought home the wisdom and serenity of that old tree. And right now I need both.
We cannot live solely in electronically-generated worlds and indulge in engineered pleasures. We need to spend time and a lot of it in nature, in places that, at least to some degree, are still wild and untamed. If we don’t, then that, which is wild and untamed within us, becomes numb and eventually it dies. We feel the loss keenly but often we’re so out of touch with ourselves that we don’t even know what it is that we so sorely miss.