I don’t have much to say about Thanksgiving in the United States. I find it a rather awkward holiday. So, let’s move on. This is a Nature blog, not a holiday blog after all!
I’m planning to do two posts for the month of December.
Right now, I’m doing some “not so light reading” in preparation for my next high-level post. Its rather depressing, but you know once it passes through me, I’ll make it much more enjoyable for you to read! I’ll also share a funny personal story about how to make ANY job a “Nature-Led” job.
When you hear the wind but don’t feel it, it’s magical, like spirits who have chosen to tousle the high leaves on the trees but not your hair. It’s within that absence of presence that a nature-led person can find a new awareness. Does the wind have a mind of its own? What does it mean to be in possession of a mind in the first place?
The “mind” of a human consists of two parts, the physical brain riding around at the control center of our meatsuits and the spiritual mind that connects the conscious and unconscious rhythms to our soul. Physic law: Energy is neither created nor destroyed. We are made of energy, as much as we are of blood and muscle. Our synapses fire, we are alive! What happens when our synapses fail to fire? Are we dead in a way that we no longer exist? But we are still made of energy, right? Our body may die, but I don’t believe that we, “the conscious self “, dies. We only become untethered from this mortal suitcase.
I could tell you that I’ve seen and heard people after they’ve died, but then your logical brain will tell you I must be crazy and now I’ve become an unreliable narrator. So here’s Carl Jung who says it beautifully in a way I hope you can feel.
At times I feel as if I am spread out over the landscape and inside things, and am myself living in every tree, in the splashing of the waves, in the clouds and the animals that come and go, in the procession of the seasons. There is nothing in the Tower that has not grown into its own form over the decades, nothing with which I am not linked. Here everything has its history, and mine; here is space for the spaceless kingdom of the world’s and the psyche’s hinterland.
Carl G. Jung
Joe and I got along well. We met through a mutual friend. He owned a pub a block down the street from my apartment. We were all taking Network Administration courses at the local community college. Where once “plastics” were the future, we now knew it to be computers. We waxed poetically between beers about man and machines. Then I saw it. Joe with his body sitting, but his spirit standing behind him. He was consciously preserving the moment, capturing the memory with his mind. He’d be taking a trip soon. This was his way of pocketing a snapshot within his conscious mind.
The group decided to move off to somewhere else, maybe another pub, maybe a jam session in Jason’s basement. People who like playing with computers also like trying to make instruments sing. I prefer to be a heartbeat that keeps time and melts into the background. I like to fade in and out of the peripheral. The inference- the spaces in-between- is where I can most often be found. Sometimes I pick up a shaker egg, or tambourine, but it’s the hand drums that often call me out. I used to be part of drum circle. Few things are sadder to me than the idea of a drum circle of one. Not much of a circle then, is it? If I’m an echo of call and response, then asking me to reverberate off myself sounds hollow.
I made lame excuses about why I had to ride with Joe and no one else. I said it was because I wanted to listen to Bach instead of Def Leopard and I wanted those warm heated-leather seats (which was also true, because it was bitterly cold that night.) He was the only one of us that was a real adult with actual adult things like a house he owned, a long-term relationship, and a car that wasn’t older than him by necessity. He’d been a successful day trader who’d exited right before the dotcom bust. Now he was dying.
As Joe pulled out of the parking lot, I asked him how long he had to live and what he was dying from. He was visibly taken aback, side-eyed me for a moment then focused back on the road. “Pancreatic cancer, maybe nine months, but probably two.” He said. “How did you know?”
“I saw you taking pictures with your mind. You were capturing the moment as if to take some piece of us with you.” I said. “I’ve been around death long enough to know when someone’s checking out of Hotel Corporeal.” He laughed, then told me not to tell any of the others. I argued profusely. His long-time, live-in girlfriend didn’t even know! “Don’t make me sit on this.” I begged. “Give them a chance to say Goodbye!” I complained. He wouldn’t hear of it, he thought maybe their anger would help them through the pain, but more than that, he didn’t want them looking at him with pity. I felt that.
There was a time when I was young. I had a lot of pride until my innocence was violently taken in shame. It wasn’t the act itself that devastated me so much. In fact, had there been no witnesses I likely could have flushed the memory into a mnemonic blackhole, but there were witnesses. When those who had seen what happened turned away from me with pity in their eyes, something broke within me. I found only blinding rage for solace. My face was hot and red, my vision was colored red and my body worked itself into shades of back and blue. In my raw anger I saw only myself and attributes I felt need to be fixed. Pride turned to judgement. I became a nihilistic hunter of knowledge.
The power within you is the power of knowing what you’re capable of. I trained to be faster, smarter, and stronger than everyone else around me. I siphoned knowledge like everyone else was a sieve. I created. I destroyed. I manipulated. I sacrificed. I took from some and gave to others. I don’t believe we are made in any gods reflection; they are made of us. Their stories reflect the human experience. We file them down into digestible components of virtues, parables, and chapter books as teaching tools. We are the gods and like the stories I learned temperance through age.
So here I was, many years later riding with a dying man who doesn’t want anyone to look at him with pity in their eyes. He died roughly two weeks later. I never said a word. You can’t pity him now. He was seen, but also heard and that’s one less hungry ghost to worry about.
What is he thinking when he plays in the wind? When he refuses to mess with my hair? In that space of absence, the known spirit says, “I am here.”
Her eyes wrenched him from the clutches of reality He was plunged to the very depths of fantasy Their softness Their fragility It lent him strength It woke purpose within desire But alas when you wade too deep for too long, You find things not meant to be found…
In those trenches of beauty there was fear A dread that the outside was superficial And the inside would always be empty A panic that when the petals fell, When the beauty withered, Loneliness would remain
In her nightmare a dream took root Sown by his pledge Warmed by companionship Watered by commitment He would not abandon her to that darkness For he had always known; “From her heart grows a tree” And it blooms through all seasons
“From her heart grows a tree” whose bark has peeled and chipped, now leaving exposed wood growing moss and green creatures fertile with new life to pass. She is solid below the surface, and confident the new chapter will take root.
I remember standing in these aspens two years ago, my heart expanding as I gazed up, up, up at this tree reaching for the blue sky. However, aspens are not only magnificent above ground, but also below, because groups of aspen share a root system. A system one might imagine as an enormous “beating heart” below ground.
“From her heart grows a tree.”
Her heart connecting with mine.
From her heart grows a tree, a family tree, with many branches called generations.
The Family Tree is among the most wonderful images of trees; how people are connected over generations. Certainly not the beginning of my family tree – yet, a long time ago, Barnebus Maney, Captain during the Revolution – father of 12 children was the beginning. I (and you and Joshua and Noah) are related to more people than you can imagine. Like a tree – we grow branches. Like a tree, we grow new branches – each one making us stronger. I love the connections.
Below you will see a visual tree that has been done by a proper computer scientist. Instead of creating a trunk from an obscure phrase using search engine indexing like I did, he took tweets on Twitter using hashtags (#example) and created groups of tweets on specific topics. This is a circular tree, which I think represents any type of social grouping well. We are spheres of knowledge, spheres of associations, Venn diagrams within Venn diagrams.
This diagram along with several others from The Book of Trees: Visualizing Branches of Knowledge by Manuel Lima or several more examples digitally from this 2014 Gizmodo Australia article: