It’s a funny paradox that working on long-term thinking can be a frenzied, over-scheduled thing. Racing from a plane to rental car to highway in California recently, I was determined to get to Muir Woods before they closed.
That is an obviously ridiculous concept, that the woods have a closing time. I’m also sad to report that you now need a reservation to visit this place, and that the lack of cell service there seemed to render us all helpless infants.
Happily, the woods themselves couldn’t care less that the parking rules have changed. One step onto the path and I felt a great release. Ten more steps and I felt a prickle of tears in my eyes, to be amongst beings that had seen so much. And when I found myself alone in the redwood cathedrals, woah. These trees have stood through wartime and peacetime, through storms and sunshine, through human folly and human wisdom.
There is nothing I could ever bring to them that is greater than something they have already survived. The same is true for mountains, for rivers, for plains, for marshes… even for some buildings, and some people.
Hand on a tree, my fury over powerpoint fonts drained away. Feet on the earth, my worry over lost basis points disappeared. Air in my lungs, my deeper questions about purpose and meaning floated free.
All of our work, all of our lives, are ephemeral in the grand scheme of things – and yet if we are alert, and a little bit lucky, some of our endeavor might help those who come after, whether they be humans or foxes or maples.
The parking rules at Muir Woods might be needed at the moment, and I’m glad for the folks who worked on them. But oh! Dear friends! Let’s not confuse the apps with the trees.
When I arrived home, this amazing book had been sent to me by a dear friend. Coincidence? I think not!