Wednesday, December 3, 2008

teachable trees

i have been much too silent about my most recent read, especially in light of my confession on a couch, "this book will probably change my life."

i realize that i may say that about every book i read.
but i really, really, really mean it this time.

hmmm. muse with me here about this:
i am (and my parents [and husband] will concur) a rather unteachable little sprite. i am cynical and analytical and these too combinations make for one impenetrable mind. if i have let my guard down and learned from you, i hope you know this is rare. i am also the poster girl for the little sister syndrome i like to call the "i know!" disorder. this combination makes for a problematic juxtaposition (aren't all humans problematic?) inside me.

what strikes me as odd and wonderful is the ultimate and unguarded release of this unteachable spirit upon opening a book. it seems that i trust the creak of the spine, the smell of age, and the words of history more than anything else in my life (except for experience...). i cannot delineate i trust the book because of its history (i am a rather rigid traditionalist - academically speaking) or if i trust it because of its confident silence. to write is to have a faith and certainty in a reader. modern hermeneutics takes into account every human's different interpretation of the written word, despite the persuasion, rhetoric, and explanation of the author. when an author releases his/her words, he/she lets go of whatever possible interpretation (ideally) and trust that it will be meaningful, in any way, to a reader.

it seems my hard exterior melts in this trust.
and this book, this written word, scales my wall of unteachablity and knocks it down,
stone by literary stone.

this new book will change my life.
and i really, really, really mean it.

i have wandered through life unenchanted with nature and bored when outdoors (i fault this to a concrete, suburban upbringing on roller-skates and television). two years ago, i felt my spirit emerging, a spirit of imagination towards nature which gave me a new-found appreciation for all the goings-on around me that i never before saw; i began to search out and entertain curiosities of things like ant hills and bird watching. in the past, i would have scoffed at this nonsense and buried my nose back into a book, since that is the only place i could find any imagination.

but, back to my current read.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek has infused what i discovered about nature two years ago with new insight and inspiration for continual growth in this area. In this nonfiction piece, Dillard records her thoughts as she spends a year wandering through Virginia's Blue Ridge valley at Tinker Creek. She muses about the lessons nature reveals to her, most of which she learns just by sitting and watching.

i do not sit and watch enough.

in chapter three, entitled "The Present," Dillard expounds on finding the current moment. I relate quite well to her tone: compassionate to the unrealized-self, hopeful of growth, aware of death, and never didactic. Perhaps this is why i can learn from her...because she never intended to teach.

a passage from last night that was particularly apt because of a conversation some of my friends had here (nothing is ever as coincidental as we imagine) about trees and finding a piece of identity in nature:

"I am sitting under a sycamore tree. I am soft-shell and peeled to the least puff of wind or smack of grit. The present of our life looks different under trees. Trees have dominion. I never killed that backyard sycamore; even its frailest inner bark was a shield. Trees do not accumulate life, but deadwood, like a thickening coat of mail. Their odds actually improve as they age...Some trees sink taproots to rock; some spread wide mats of roots clutching at acres. They will not be blown. We run around under these obelisk-creatures, teetering on our soft, small feet. We are out on a jaunt, picnicking, fattening like puppies for our deaths. Shall I carve a name on this trunk? What if I fell in a forest: Would a tree hear?" (92).

I feel my creative eye opening.
I feel a greater need than ever for imagination.

I must learn to be patient, sit under a tree, and let it teach...

~here's to hoping,
mme. bookling


she said...

"I feel my creative eye opening.
I feel a greater need than ever for imagination."

i think this is what i was TRYING to get at this morning. a greater need for imagination. the importance of dreaming. whatever you want to call it. but i love this piece of writing (in which once again i perceive you as so radiantly and beautifully yourself, it is almost blinding to the eye).

truth must dazzle gradually
or every man be blind
[e. dickinson]

Amanda said...

i am so happy you like dillard!
she is a difficult and rewarding poet, even in prose.

Iscah Mara said...

you wax hermeneutically with ease and wisdom. my shoulders rise with my sigh and smile. i love that it frees you.

i miss the outdoors. i miss birdwatching. that's all well and good now that winter is descending. i want to go on a hike and not get cold.

An Carol said...

you are good writer ,i had been lose on my way but i was lucky so find the way again . now i saw your writer i will to lookking for some book to myself ,so you are good writer you affect to me ,i want find a book will chang my life a book .