Saturday, July 15, 2017

Re-learning the lessons of life

We just learned that we have lost another of our friends. Jeff was a long-time angler at Bow Narrows and was still quite a young man. Brenda and I both sobbed at the news and as always at times like this, each turned silent.
I left the house and went for a walk in our woods. For the umpteenth time I photographed a massive tree stump, now just a pile of rotten wood. The stump is a grave stone really, a monument to the giant white pine that once stood here.
I always find solace in this relic. It reminds me of what life is all about. Growing out of the top and sides of this moldering mound of cellulose and bark are several other trees. Some are perhaps 20 years old and a couple are just seedlings. As its last act the white pine has provided a place for other trees to take life.
Each life is temporary but Life itself goes on and on, I am reminded.
If I sit down on a stump from a more recently deceased tree my mind will delve more and more into the Big Picture. Everything in creation is so inter-connected, I believe, that there really are no boundaries between one thing and another. We are all part of the one Big Thing.
I think of the following example that I heard somewhere. For some reason it reaches me.
A little girl bites into an apple, and is savouring the crunch and flavour of her favourite fruit when she notices half a worm still in the part that is in her hand. The implications of this discovery are obvious to her and she immediately spits out the mouthful of chewed pulp. Is that blob laying on the ground the little girl or the apple?
Awhile later the girl recalculates her act and comes to the conclusion that if she avoids the part of the apple still containing half a worm she can still enjoy her snack. So she eats the rest. Her body breaks down the apple into its component parts of carbohydrate, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Are these things the little girl or the apple?
The components of the apple are absorbed into the the girl's cells and help her to live and grow. Eventually nature calls and being a country kid she goes behind a tree and leaves a "deposit." Was that deposit the little girl or the apple?
As it turns out the tree she went behind was an apple tree. The deposit is welcomed by the tree which eventually absorbs through its roots the elements not used by the girl. These are taken into the tree's cells and help it to live and grow. Were these things the apple tree or the little girl?
We can argue about where one life form ends and the other begins but a simpler conclusion is there just are no boundaries. We are all parts of one gigantic organism and that entity which we call  Life never dies.
I find comfort in that lesson.
The best thing to do when we "lose" a friend or loved one, I think, is to use the occasion to incorporate the inspirational qualities of that person into our own lives. In that way the person continues to live on.

Click to see the latest on the blog


joe overman said...

Well said, Dan. Seems like retirement has given your philosophy gene a shot of steroids! Or we just getting old?

Dan Baughman said...

Well, if you can't philosophize in retirement, when can you?