The Human Experience

“You could be listening to anything at all, and this is what you choose to listen to?” , said the daughter.

I chuckled. We were driving through the Great Plains of the Mid-West between Wisconsin and Illinois. Snow flakes were flurrying lazily across the windshield, which was amusing to watch, since I could feel the car shuddering with the winds sweeping the plains. The great windmills on either side of the freeway were moving and converting the wind energy, while the snowflakes seemed to be dancing lazily and flitting across the plains. To see the flakes against the depth of the vast plain fields was mesmerizing enough, but to have Dr Indre Viskontas’s lecture accompany the scenes outside made for a new appreciation. 

I was listening to the excellent Great Courses lectures by Dr Indre Viskontas. In her energetic voice as she talks about how we hear and see, the world becomes magical again. 

Listening to Dr Indre Viskontas speak about the faculties of seeing and hearing, makes those of us given these two abilities more appreciative of all that goes on beneath the skin to make these happen. 

12 Essential Scientific Concepts

How we perceive light, hear the frequencies of sound that are audible to us, make for our human experience. The frequencies heard and seen by each creature on Earth itself is different. From the magical birds who sense the Earth’s magnetic field for their migration journeys to the fish who are able to navigate by the position of the stars from deep under the ocean, we each have our own unique way of living. Of Life. 

In Dr Oliver Sack’s book, Musicophilia, he says:

“Every act of perception, is to some degree an act of creation, and every act of memory is to some degree an act of imagination.”

Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia

Dr Indre Viskontas is also an Opera performer, and her joyous voice brings out the polymathic abilities she possesses. Truly, as she regales cognitive neuroscience and how our brains understand better, I am reminded of some wonderful musings with our dance teacher at school. In between rigorous bouts of dance practice, she insisted that her students were all bright, athletic, and doing so much better than we would have without dance. And, in the energy of youth urging us towards our better selves, we wanted to believe her. Could that have been a belief that spurred us on? We would not know – for good teachers, coaches and mentors all excel in that subtle balance of belief, discipline, and inspiration.

But maybe the musicality and the dance do make for better neurological experiences. As Dr Viskontas says in the lecture above, 

Art and science are after the same thing. The goal is to understand the human experience. Science does it by extracting general principles about the world, and art uses individual experience to highlight what is universal.”

Dr Indre Viskontas

Why is it that we are moved by a piece of music to visualize a god vs demon war on stage, or the haunting love-lorn calls to one another? Because music, like whales can attest, can evoke worlds in our imagination. 

“Music can also evoke worlds very different from the personal, remembered worlds of events, people, places we have known.”

Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain

And so, I wanted to say to the daughter, “When I could be listening to anything at all, I chose to listen to the lectures trying to understand the human experience in a vast, barren landscape, made unbearably beautiful by the beauty of the symmetrical snowflakes, and the gushing of the winds against the car. “

What I did instead was laugh, and let her call me weird. ‘Weird’ I am beginning to understand is one of the best compliments that a teenaged child can give you.

The 4 Seasons

We have been traveling in the Chicago area for the past few days, and I must say folks spotted us Californians miles away. They chuckled, they were amused and they had no idea why we scuttled and huddled like penguins in winter when it was clearly spring – ask the daffodils who were springing up to say hello to Lincoln statues everywhere.

Illinois does not let you forget that Lincoln hailed from there. The roadways, streets, statues and even a bust in a university that had a funny story of a Lincoln statue whose nose folks rubbed for good luck. I tried rubbing the daughter’s nose for luck, but it didn’t seem to amuse her much. A shame really – for the very child as a toddler was famed for joyously peeling off a gargling laugh like a tinkling stream every time we made her nose ‘disappear’ in what seems like just a few years ago. Oh well. Time.

I saw some folks out with light jackets, a spring in their step, and not so much as a cap. We? Well, once you wear the cap, mask, gloves, extra thick jacket, thermals, boots, you’d think there isn’t much place left to freeze. But there is. And we froze with every gust of wind by Lake Michigan and Lake Mendota. After a lovely stroll through the park by the lake, I mumbled through the layers to the daughter, “Nothing makes you feel so alive as catching that gasp of crisp air right?!” 

Her muffled retort made it past all the layers, and she said, “Oh – is that what we are calling this chilling cold now? Crisp! Ma!”

I must say driving from Chicago to Madison, Wisconsin and then from there to Urbana Champaign back to Chicago made for a marvelous time. It was good for the soul to contemplate the nothingness and vast expanse of space in the world. The Greek myths of Hades and Persephone’s plight came alive in those days starker than anywhere else I’ve seen. The Earth was barren for miles and miles around us. Spring planting had not yet begun, and what would have been green fields on either side in the summer and fall were empty, preparing for another season. The cold winds and a slightly snowy day made for exciting drives on the interstates reminding us of Lincoln’s Illinois. Windmills flailed their arms long and wide, while the little car shuddered along with the whipping winds and the large vehicles on the road.

Other days made for marvelous blue skies with scudding clouds. The characteristic blue skies and white clouds of Planet Earth are especially welcome when one is traveling and out and about.

We were told by indulgent folks that they experienced 4 seasons – a dig at Californian winters, no doubt. But after the cold days of Illinois springs, I am quite ready to take on the winters of California, and headed out on a rainy day walk almost as soon as I could find my bearing s again, only to be rewarded by a marvelous rainbow for Earth Day!

What’s more I didn’t have to pull my freezing fingers out of their gloves to take these pictures.

The 🌏 Laughs in 🌸 🌺

Most trees are still bare. Winters are milder in California than elsewhere. Even so, the bare branches of the brilliantly hued trees just a few months ago is stark against the skyline. But then, there are early spring heralders that enthrall and enchant. When I am out walking these days, they are often punctuated with rapture – little stops to admire a cherry blossom tree in full bloom, a tulip bulb poking its head out, or snowdrops working its way through the cold hard months and blooming just in time for the spring equinox.

Snowdrops

Spring is the best time for a saunter. Californian Springs have the best combination of rainy days, cloudy days, sunny days, warm days, cold days, and windy days. Through it all, there is the breathtaking beauty of the flowering trees. It is hard to imagine an Earth without flowers given how much they brighten our days on Earth. But it wasn’t that long ago that Earth was rampant with life and lifeforms without flowers. Makes us stop and think doesn’t it? What else evolution would have up its sleeve if allowed to go at its own pace. How many creations beautiful, mesmerizing, unknown and somewhat hampered by the limits of our own imagination?

Sitting inside on a cold March day and watching the wind whipping the trees outside, and looking at the petals of the cherry blossom flit towards the earth below is fascinating. On sunny days, the birds pecking at the cherry blossom flowers and sending showers of little petals earthwards is showtime. 

I cannot help thinking of the distant lineage of the little birds. Did their dinosaur ancestors see flowers and interact with them? I thought beaks were a particular evolutionary step for nectar. But maybe not. I remember reading that flowering plants only appeared towards the tail-end of the dinosaur’s time on Earth, or maybe even later. I also remember walking along the Natural History Museum time line and thinking that the dinosaurs really missed the marvelous great flowering of planet Earth.

https://earthhow.com/earth-timeline-geological-history-events/

But then again, this recent article seems to think the dinosaurs may have seen flowers after all.

https://www.livescience.com/40088-flowers-existed-with-dinosaurs.html

Quote:

Newfound fossils hint that flowering plants arose 100 million years earlier than scientists previously thought, suggesting flowers may have existed when the first known dinosaurs roamed Earth, researchers say.

LiveScience Journal – article linked

Whether or not the dinosaurs saw the flowers, I am grateful we live in an era when we can experience flowers. All the musings of the cosmic accident of life seems glorious in the flowering trees around us. Meadows are bursting with wildflowers. On a little hike near the coastline one day, we saw hillsides filled with golden orange poppies, lupines, and flowers of yellow, white and pink weaving and waving amidst the fresh green of Earth. Set against most trees that are still bare from the winter the flowers are a sharp reminder of all the stark contrasts of life.

We don’t know about all the forms of life possible in our universe, and probably never will find the enormity and possibilities. Yet in that very paradox lies the power of musing.

Almond Blossoms to Cake

“Hmm….is that badam cake?”. (Badam is the Tamil name for Almond) The son’s nose whiffed and sniffed rapturously as he came home from school. I laughed at his reaction. The heavenly scents of ghee, almonds, milk, cardamom, and sugar have felled many a strong heart. No wonder celestial offerings have this combination of aromas the world over. I nodded and the little fellow ran inside. His grandmother handed him a warm piece of badam cake, and his eyes shone. His mouth watering, he gave her a hug, and knowing how his grandfather must’ve been the one who stirred the mixture for hours to get it to this consistency gave him a hug too.

Then he bit into it slowly: relishing, licking, savoring the cake in his hands, he danced a little jig. 

Relishing badam cakes is a family tradition I think. Across the length and breadth of the family tree, you will find people who melt in anticipation of badam cake. The nephews, nieces, son, daughter, their parents and grandparents all smack their lips when the very name is mentioned. The grandmothers treasure the almonds more than diamonds.

A couple of days later we went on a short drive. The drive through the green hills of California was enough to raise the spirits of everyone in the car. The view of the rolling hills of the Bay Area is best in late winter and early spring. All around us is resplendent green tugging at the heart strings of poets to take up that muse of the alluring verdure. But, there are bounties waiting the moment you reach the plains too: fields of almond trees in rows and rows spread over acres like one of those 3-d models that mesmerize you in their symmetry and movement. In early spring, the almond trees are in full bloom. Watching the brilliance of their white snowy blossoms even non-poets feel their heart strings tug.

It is no wonder that Van Gogh and thousands of artists on this beautiful planet looked to almond blossoms as inspirations in their work. It is stunning. Vincent Van Gogh wrote in a letter to his brother as he worked on his famous Almond Blossoms painting:

I am up to my ears in work for the trees are in blossom, and I want to paint a Provençal orchard of astonishing gaiety.

Van Gogh
Almond Blossoms by Vincent van Gogh – Image from Wikipedia – using Wikimedia Commons

Grown in France, Spain, Iran and California, almonds occupied prime real estate in the nourish-n-cherish childhood home. We had sturdy Godrej cupboards of yore for valuables. Other families stashed gold, silver, diamonds etc: ours had almonds and cashews.

Soaked, peeled with glee ( you could pop the almonds out of their skin after soaking, and several of them would escape and flee across the tables), ground, and then stirred with ghee, sugar and cardamom, this is a delicacy alright.

The son and I watched the trees in quiet symmetry zoom past our windows. Beautiful fields full of trees, quietly standing in the Californian soil doing all the hard work of blooming, sprouting and growing. How I wish we could learn from trees. How they go about the business of living and enabling living for creatures such as we: sans fanfare, yet with complete grace and majesty. A stoic patience underlying their vibrance; their steady creation the backbone of life on this planet. 

almond fields California

I thought of the happy faces of the nourish-n-cherish household when we see the badam cakes each time. That godly moment of sliding the cake into the mouth – all starting with the astounding wondrous work of the almond flowers in bloom outside the window. It makes us pause and appreciate all that is takes to satisfy the human palette, doesn’t it? 

Mingling Starlight in our Lives

Humanity has been in that strange place of being where our sentience allows us to contemplate the mysteries of the universe, while still being stumped and awed by the chaos and complexities of nature.

A week ago, I said bye to my family and boarded the plane. Airports must always bear the brunt of human emotions. I sat on the plane, and the tears came coursing down. I was so desperate for my dear friend’s life. I had been in denial – there was no doubt. I knew she had cancer and she was stoically, bravely fighting the Emperor of Maladies for over two years now. But I hadn’t realized how far it had gotten. I could not reconcile my friends’ vibrant, energetic, intelligent image in my mind with the one I saw a few days earlier. This girl, without whom I cannot imagine my childhood(the one who would brave anything for you), was fighting for her life. 

Almost every important memory had her in it. A shining presence with her light of being – science lab, sports fields, classes, our home, the lanes of Lovedale. Boarding school bonds are unique. I had not kept in touch with most folks in my class after moving to the US, but I managed to reconnect with her after a few years. My children teased me every time I got off the phone with her (You have *that* look – they’d say, like you’d been talking to your Lovedale pals) It was true. I could not bring that smile any other time – I’ve tried. It is like the precious memories of childhood are saved in a special location in your brain that is accessible only by certain people, events, experiences, places, tastes, aromas (and odors!). 

It has been a long few days since that flight back to the US. During this time, humanity has once again revealed its marvelous nature of being to us. Human beings as a species are redeemed only by their giving hearts, empathy and love. My dear friend now has a fighting chance and it all came through because of the generosity of many who knew her, and many who didn’t. Most of us had not seen each other or spoken to one another in years. Yet.

It was a privilege to see our collective love for each other surface through time and space and help out one of our own.

A shiver passed through me as I stepped out on a walk, and I inadvertently looked up at the stars. Plaedis cluster, and Orion the big hunter looked unusually bright on that cold, clear night. 

“Mingle the starlight with your lives!”

Maria Mitchell, Astronomer & Professor

I smiled up at the universe thinking of that quote. I had been in the skies (among the stars) when I had sent fervent prayers up for this girl, and the starlight had mingled in with our lives giving us hope again. 

Now, we pray that her body accepts the treatment and she becomes healthy again. 

light shining through the clouds

The Eyes of Covid

I had to leave for India somewhat urgently. The father had mysteriously picked up a strain of Typhoid and Covid, the mother had Covid after days of caring for the former. As can be imagined, it was not the easiest frame of mind in which travel plans were made. Traveling anywhere in the middle of the pandemic is a nightmare. Traveling from the US to the East is never an easy task. So, traveling from the United States to India during the peak of the Omicron variant of the Covid pandemic is doubly painful. I am grateful I was able to make it though. With flights being the way they are, and travel plans being so erratic, travel is to be avoided if possible. However my travel was unavoidable. 

I took care of things like making a pest of myself with the children since I shall be missing them for sometime, returning the books in the library, packing gloves, masks, and Clorox wipes for the old home etc. The husband’s face, in the meanwhile, took on a serious look, and he plunged into the mode of planning and getting the important things done. 

The husband in planning mode is a force to reckon with. Phone calls flew, chat messages scrambled and unscrambled themselves with the might of the Internet’s speed thrown at them. Friends who had recently made the journey were consulted, advice was given, and mysterious packages containing masks of various sizes and shapes were dropped off at the curb by different cars and occupants. Some of them had recently come back from India, and so, masks for long term wear were dropped off.

One mask made me look like a duck, another like a monkey, and the third like a surgeon. Based on popular user experience, the duck incarnation won the round for the flight. The strap went over the head, and was no problem at all throughout. So, off I went, intensely aware of the long journey between my adult and childhood homes. It might’ve taken 80 days to go around the world before air travel. With air travel, it took approximately 32 hours door-to-door.

Boston Science Museum – Dinosaur with Mask

I have always felt that if there was one place that got the full blast of human emotions, it must be hospital corridors, and airports. I was stopped by the security officer who saw my boarding pass to New Delhi airport and started talking to me in Hindi. 

Sab teek hai?” He asked me, a look of concern in his eyes. (It is astounding how much we notice the eyes post-Covid. I wonder whether babies born in Covid times leaped ahead with this skillset). I was a little confused and taken aback at first- but nodded. Intensely aware that not always will this be the case, and grateful that this time it was.

P.S: The parents are recovering well, and the old father has been itching to start his stock marketing, and has been given the green light to do so.

The Journey Not The Destination

There is a saying in Tamil that the old pater evokes every time he hears me rave about my little brother. (Little meaning younger – he ceased to be a little fellow about quarter a century ago, though my friends still ask after ‘my little brother’ much to his amusement.) “Thambiyudaiyan padaikku anjaan” In short it means, one who is blessed with a brother, is blessed with the might of an army. I’ve always felt my brother was more like wings.

When he came, we were ready to take flight and soar. When he was home, home was a place one returned to from our little flights of adventure and fancy. His love of vehicles, not withstanding, he has always been the  one ready to take you out on a ride, whether on his bicycle as a boy, or on his scooter and bike as a young adult, or in his car as an adult. As I moved to the United States, I slowly lost touch with driving in India, and increasingly found myself restricted in movement on my trips to India. He truly became my wings. When he was there, I could take on anything / anywhere.

Road trips with the brother have acquired a legendary status over the years, because he, like the father, has acquired the knack of peppering the trip with snacks – the right delicacies at the right time.

This time, the trip was not a pleasure one. I had flown down to help the old parents. As my trip was nearing an end, the brother came home (having recovered from Covid himself in the past few weeks) as a surprise.

He said we’d go out one evening, and I felt the stirring of the spirits once again. The roaring of adventure in the ears. A few miles from our urban home, he spun his wheels in what he calls off-roading. I had only vaguely heard the term. His eyes rove for unbeaten paths, muddy side roads and often roads that no one prefers. The first time, he did this, I was not prepared, since he somewhat abruptly swung off the road and bumped off most unceremoniously into a muddy path by the roadside. I clutched whatever I could, and rattled off a prayer cum expletive that had the brother and nephew laughing. What was this? Before I knew it, he had the car in a ditch, and it did not look possible to get it out of there. As much confidence as I had in the spirit of adventure with the fellow, this time, it seemed, we were done for. 

The nephew, all of a decade old, said ‘Athai! ‘ using a tone meant to soothe and calm irrational patients. “Don’t worry – this car can do….” He went on to rattle some statistics on torques, elevation gains and things that sent my head reeling. I looked at the little fellow, and felt a gurgle of laughter slip through the panic: I heeded it and laughed.  This apple fell right next to the tree alright. This was exactly what his father as a little fellow did. I remember the old pater trooping home from bookstores in far flung corners of whichever city he had visited, and we all made a beeline to see what he picked up for us. The little brother’s eyes always lit up with the old Auto magazines he had picked up from used book stores for him. He would spend rainy afternoons reading about the cars, their makes, their engine powers, their capacity. The joke in the household was that we could set him up with a Cycle Mart or an Auto Mart, and his life would be fine.

The bucolic scenes that reveal themselves in these off-roading experiences are amazing. One time, we positioned our phones to click a number of goat kids bleating atop a knoll when this lady came out of  her hut. The smile she gave us afterwards was priceless. 

Clucking hens, and goat kids seem almost magical in the early evening.

Evening scenes of women making their way home with firewood on their heads, or goats and cows ambling back home against the rural landscape set the pace differently from the rushing automobiles, and folks honking homewards in urban scapes just a few miles away.

Off-roading in poramboke lands means you get to see arid stones and rocks, or patches thriving in vegetation, and not really knowing what you would see.

He stopped to watch the sunset, and there in the distance was a peacock.  

It was pure coincidence that we caught this peacock take flight into the sunset and that I managed to capture the picture. Mostly, by the time I fumble for the phone, and click, the birds have not only gone, in the art of fumbling, I miss both the photograph and the wonderful sight of the bird taking flight as well. This time, I caught both. Life shows you moments of joy and luck, every so often to remind us of the magic of serendipity.

“Serendipity will take you beyond the currents of what is familiar. Invite it. Watch for it. Allow it.” 

 Jeanne McElvaney

When we trooped back into the home, the parents asked us where we’d been, and we had no destination to name. Sometimes, it is just the journey.

Traveling with the Moon

I traveled with the moon on my trip to India. The full moon rose along side my flight taking off.  There was something poetic about traveling with the moon halfway around the Earth. 

The golden moon elegantly shone and sailed through the inky skies. Slowly, the golden orb turned silver, while the skies around it turned pitch black. Far above the Earth, the hues of the night sky seem richer somehow. Finally, during the last leg of my flight, it was a pale white against the rosy pinks of the early morning clouds and azure skies.

Amuse me while I chant like an enchanted kindergartener:

The Earth rotates on its axis every 24 hours.

The Earth revolves around the sun every year.

The Moon rotates on its axis every 27.322 days.

It also takes that amount of time for it to revolve around the Earth.

So, we only see the same face of the moon, yet the trick of light and its reflection gives us a different show every night.

I see you shaking your head and wondering whether all is well. It is. But, I felt the beauty of it all wash over me anew every time I peeked out at the moon from the aircraft window.

Moon high above the clouds

The only difference between the moon and self was that while my sights may have soared skyward at take-off, it was a pretty poor dance companion to the smooth gliding of the moon. The flight shuddered and blinked its way through the long night, while the moon gracefully accompanied – serene, shining, and sans fuss: Gravitational forces holding it in bay. Thousands of feet below, the ocean waves rose and fell, also dancing to the gravitational tugs and pulls of the beautiful mistress of the skies. Man made designs are cumbersome at best compared to those polished and tuned by eons of nature. Nevertheless, I was grateful for the marvel of flight – we took off in the darkness, and flew always across the world where it was dark when we reached it. I felt like the penguins in winter – huddling and peeping to the skies over a long, dark night. 

At my transit airport, I asked for a cup of coffee to keep awake through the night for my connection flight. The moon needed nothing. The cosmos, is, was, will be.  

Humankind’s movements seem jerky and and oddly designed in comparison. Interspersed with the human sounds and interruptions for food, restroom breaks, flights landing and taking off, the human trip around the earth, was lacking the moon’s elan. 

While thousands undertake journeys like this all the time, I felt a vastness and a soaring that felt un-earthly. In sharp contrast to just 24 hours later, when the world felt constricted, restricted and very much moored to Earth. With instructions to ‘Self Quarantine’, I stepped inside the home, and was not to see the moon make its journey around the planet for the next few days.

Human doings do not affect moons. At least not yet.

In the Infinities of the Desert

Driving on deserted roads through the desert can be quite unnerving if you haven’t the right company. I remember thinking of those brave folks who ran marathons across the Sahara desert with nothing but a compass for company, and I must say I felt all the more grateful for the companionship that I did have in the bleak desert just then (Girls trips have a joy of their own!). There are times when one feels alright alone with a compass and the stars for company, but that day it felt just right to have your friends about you – squealing and laughing at the jokes and the non-jokes with equal joy.

We had been to Joshua Tree National Park during the day. The park literature spoke highly of Cholla Cactus Gardens, and I must say I was yearning to see them too. After the tall tree-like cacti of Sedona, Arizona, I was curious to see their west-side cousins. Would they be dwarfish like their tree brethren? The Joshua trees were nothing like trees, but were trees alright. What would the cacti be like?

The cacti, it turns out, were beautiful. They sort of creep up on you when you least expect it. There are miles and miles of desert, punctuated with outsized boulders on all sides. The boulders! Really – some of them were the size of buildings just sitting out there with the wind whooshing past them, and the sun beating down on them.

The Boulders!

Desolate, barren, comical. I suppose they would make marvelous spots to star-gaze in. (It is a desperate thing to yearn for the night skies on a bright, windy day, but the signs for star gazing were there everywhere. It sounded marvelous,. I have seen pictures of star trails in the Joshua Tree National Park area, and could only imagine the thousands of stars visible in the night sky from there. ) 

Skull Rock

The cactus gardens grew there in the middle of the desert, elegantly shimmering in the rays of the sun. Round a bend, when you’re least expecting it, the cactus gardens open up (not the same beautiful as William’s Wordsworth daffodils of course, but a different kind of beauty altogether). A beautiful array of life – glinting in the desert sun, reminding you of the resilience of life on this planet. There were beautiful in their own way. They reminded me of coral reefs – only in the desert and bathed in brown hues. 

We approached a happy couple coming our way to take a picture of us. They glowed in the setting sun, and beamed. They had apparently gotten engaged to each other a few minutes ago, and were bursting with happiness to share this with us: fellow human beings, who were there at the time. We wished them both happiness together. It was a beautiful feeling of strangers sharing their happiness and good wishes. We may never meet again, but that moment of their happiness was ours to remember. 

The cactus bore testimony to human paths forging a life together, the boulders : indifferent, but providing the backdrop for a proposal and an engagement, the Joshua trees branches of every shape delivering a message of love. 

In the infinities of the desert, there was a small pause: punctuations of happiness, and joy. 

Where the Wild Girls Are

Every once in while we get to step in to a world different than our own, and the only thing that reminds you of your earthly existence are your earthly companions. Would space travel be the same way? Would an exotic alien world be made habitable with our companions? I know not, maybe our future generations will find out.

Traveling to a place Where the Wild Things Are or to one of Dr Seuss’ landscapes is a unique opportunity. I have to admit I had not read the National Park Service’s description of the Joshua Trees on their site. They called it Dr Seuss’s trees. I felt the same. Dr Seuss lived not far from Joshua Tree National Park after all, and I am sure he took inspiration from these curious curvy alphabetic trees for his many books. (The one on alphabets, On Beyond Zebra. The Wum, Humpfm, Thnad that seem to go past the twenty six that we do know; or the trees that Horton the Elephant sits on while hatching his egg for instance.) 

The Joshua trees have a life lesson or two to impart. 

Each tree seems determined to leave an imprint on the planet. Like the illustrious bristlecone trees up further north, the Joshua trees seem to chart a unique path for themselves. Each tree resorted to a rule of no rules. I saw no two trees branch out similarly. Some took to elegant and simple forms, while others reveled in the complicated heiroglyphics to decode the essence of living.

They seem to have taken Mary Oliver’s poem to heart – every one of them.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver, The Summer Day

How does one become a tree? Like this 

Or like this?

I know not. All I know is that life holds precious moments for those who attempt to become one, and the resulting camaraderie and joy of dancing and chatting in the deserts with one’s dear companions takes on a refreshing feeling that one can savor and smile at when Google Photos reminds you days afterward. 

Where the Wild Girls Are

If life is meant to be lived, live them like Joshua trees or Bristlecone trees  – hardy, beautiful, resilient, joyful and in the quiet companionship of your fellow souls journeying with you through this exotic world. 

%d bloggers like this: