Thursday, March 5, 2009

Consider











Calm down, you idiot.

Sometimes I have to speak harshly to myself or I just won't listen.

A dear friend of mine, a philosophy professor, believed (as others have) that we're bits of the universe conscious of itself. We have a gift, a gift of the senses and a sense of beauty. A transitory gift.

Where to spend this time and space? Sure, there are some worries one will never shake. Fears that will never shed. Geoff's didn't. He killed himself a few years ago. Doesn't mean his philosophy was wrong; he had a dark, dark night. Say, instead, a tree branch had fallen on his head, just enough to knock him out that night, he'd still be around to make fun of me today.

My classes at the Huntington resumed, and we had lessons in the Chinese Garden. Met a lovely man, the former student of a master gardener. This gentleman came all the way from China to prune the trees. He'd cup the tree, bend, crouch, stare, step back, consider. Next he'd select a branch, bend it, almost talk to it. Then, only then, would he decide. And sometimes the decision was to do nothing.

"How do you like it here?" I asked.

"It's almost spring," he said.

30 comments:

  1. This is a very intruiging and evocative piece.

    And I am, for once in my life, being unironical.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hmmm. . .I see you changed your ending.

    I'm always doing that too - on my blog and in my life.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I decided to do nothing. I unchanged my change, Susan.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I like the unchanged change.

    ReplyDelete
  5. KB, it's hard to calm down when there's new news, i.e. a new posting, from de A Hiker!
    It drives me crazy. That's part of my philosophy.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This deserves considered comments. I don't think you need to calm down, nor are you an idiot. But I do it, too, I speak harshly to myself.

    "Where to spend this time and space?" Different for everyone, but let's hope not in waste.

    Finally got a relevant word v: "ingst."

    ReplyDelete
  7. "I used to think anything was better than nothing. Now I know, sometimes, nothing is better."

    ReplyDelete
  8. I weep for Goeff. I weep for my wonderful, beautiful, talented, smart, funny Leslie who died 14 yrs ago because she could not face another day.
    I love your careful Chinese gardner friend. And your tone of hope and your photo of hope. \:|
    Spring is here indeed.
    It IS an intruiging and evocative piece.

    ReplyDelete
  9. It is very tempting to prune. And what better to prune with than one's own mind, one's own mouth. "Calm down, you idiot": prune, prune. "Just stop talking, already," prune, prune. That's the pair of scissors I use a lot. Oftentimes, the pruning is good. I do tend to say blather (prune, prune). But usually I prune too fast. Best to slow down and consider, with gratitude, the transitory gifts we have, before they're gone.

    ReplyDelete
  10. For me consider is the hardest part. Pruning happens, for any number of reasons. I'm learning forgiveness, it balances consider.

    My word: winglest

    ReplyDelete
  11. Careful consideration, that's what is going on.

    ReplyDelete
  12. What a beautiful paragraph, followed by such a tragic paragraph.
    Yikes. Where indeed to spend this time and space.

    ReplyDelete
  13. ... to prune is an act of continuing to go forward. Humans do this with their own life: cut away the old growth in the hope that new shoots will pop up ... somewhere.

    Old Chinese gardener knows that pruning this autumn implies that he will be needed next autumn.

    ReplyDelete
  14. so daunting
    this stream of consciousness
    forgotten to breathe

    ReplyDelete
  15. Stick around and your body will prune on its own.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I like that sometimes you don't prune. Sometimes you keep the thing, even if it's a "fault."

    ReplyDelete
  17. One of my favorite words is "wabe," which is Japanese, and kind of means "the flaw that gives it character and beauty." Like in pottery, where you see the rough edges that signify that some body made it. Another saying I like is Islamic: "to make the tapestry perfect is an offense to God."

    On such matters, has the lake at the Chinese garden cleared up? Last time I was there it was the color and consistency of pea soup and lots of heavy, banging equipment had been brought in to try to ameliorate it.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Speaking harshly to oneself on occasion, maintaining an edge, is good. It's what's left after the pruning. It's also what's left after the doing-nothing.

    ReplyDelete
  19. At the beginning of each fallow, some growing things require that all the previous season's new growth be trimmed back - right back to the old wood: OCG knows this. Many predators - like snails and aphids and men - only chew and suck on new growth. Sometimes OCG knows that old growth needs support and that this is the fallow to consolidate the base plant.

    ReplyDelete
  20. KB,
    You have a gift indeed. Wondrous words that I so appreciate.
    V

    ReplyDelete
  21. Your Chinese gardener reminds me of a story about a Western artist studying a Japanese watercolor of a waterfall. He marveled at how perfectly the painter had captured the white spray at the base of the falls. When he moved closer to see how he'd done it, he realized he was looking at bare paper. Doing nothing is indeed sometimes better; the trick is knowing when it is.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I love the fence in the photo. Reminds me of some Gaudí creation in Barcelona.

    ReplyDelete
  23. You lovely people. You take my breath away. Every day. (But don't worry, I'll be snarky tomorrow.)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Late to the party again.
    What the Chinese Gentleman was doing is identical to the process of making great art. Period.

    Great wood too: essessal

    Mid-Town G

    ReplyDelete
  25. Edit, it's late.

    Word* not wood.

    Mid-Town G

    ReplyDelete
  26. You can come to the party any time you like, Mid Town. And I agree with you.

    ReplyDelete