for part of my tree series, i found this tree and was amazed to see that despite plenty of new growth, there was a giant, gaping hole in the bottom of it. when i see trees, i think of people. i could relate to this tree. it gives me hope for the future. (nice counterbalance to an article in UTNE reader i found this morning that suggested our personalities are pretty much fixed by 30. what? i hope not.)
then i found a poem in GEIST (a fantastic canadian magazine i`ve been admiring since the late 90s) called `theory of north` by jeremy stewart. i grew up `up north` (if polar bears are walking around and you can walk across the frozen sea, i call it north) my internal monologue while reading it was `yes, yes, emphatically yes`. as i scrolled down the long page, i saw the closing quote by ken belford (canadian poet whose poems i`ve featured on this blog before) `the north moves north`. i`ve always been slightly obsessed with the idea of `north` (in canada especially). here`s the poem. if you like the poem, or the idea of north, i highly recommend glen gould`s `contrapuntal` CBC radio documentary the idea of north.
back to the tree, and another analogy i could draw from this atypical darling, is that yesterday was the four year anniversary of the tohoku earthquake and tsunami. there is a pine tree called the `miracle pine` in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture that (miraculously) survived the destruction. (it later died from damage caused by the seawater, but was preserved as a civic monument.) of course, we were living in nara prefecture when the earthquake struck; we could feel it at work where at the same time little, innocent children danced happily in a classroom. after the fact, collective shock descended - the television made no sense.
back in japan again it was so strange to see the video documentaries on the television last night after so long. we watched video of a man being rescued from the roof of a very tall building. he had videoed himself as the water came up over the roof, must have been over ten stories. separated from his wife and his new baby, it was a miracle all three of them survived, though his parents and younger brother were lost in the wave as they tried to evacuate. he said in japanese as he watched the video he took of the rushing waters coming over the roof of the building, that all he could think every time he saw it was that this was the water that took his parents, his brother. on his camera he still had the footage of that very morning, before the quake - his parents carrying his baby up to a local shrine, laughing and chatting cheerfully. totally unaware that hours later they would be taken by the sea, the sea that had always adhered to its own boundaries, the sea that had been trusted to stay where it was.
another video story showed the elderly father a man had lost in the tsunami caught on camera moments before impact - seeing the flooding in the street, walking carefully to a building and holding on as other people fled the rapidly rising waters. ` hurry, get out of there - it`s a tsunami!` the cameraman screamed to the man, his neighbour, as water devoured the space between them. as the camera escapes to higher ground we see the man holding on to the side of his house. first cars and trucks begin to swim through the street crushing everything in their path and we being to fear for the man`s survival, but then in an absurd twist the houses themselves begin to swim and smash in a swirl of destruction. as the entire town is obliterated in a 30 second swallowing gulp, we know he is gone.
resilience is seeing the people of tohoku still carrying on four years later, despite (…)
they say this is wabi sabi - the idea of a thing being used and broken, and through it all becoming more beautiful. (a shameful paraphrase, i admit). i definitely feel that way when i see this tree with a giant gaping hole for all to see its suffering, standing strong with tender new branches preparing to blossom. would i have realized its beauty, if not for the giant hole in the middle of it?