Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Switchbacks and Tree Growth

A postscript to my earlier post (Grace and Tulips) about mountains and growth...

When I imagine the spiritual metaphor of climbing a mountain, I always picture someone headed straight up the steep side of a mountain. But did you ever stop to think that no one ever climbs a mountain that way? Whether you're driving or hiking or however you intend to ascend, you always use switchbacks. Sometimes they're circles around and around the mountain, slowly rising. Othertimes it's just back and forth, back and forth, gradually up one side.

My point is, how many times in life have you felt like you're going in circles--like you've been here before and have learned this lesson in the past, but apparently not well enough? Trying to get the same lessons over and over? Reality is, it's not quite the same lesson you learned before. Your elevation is a little bit higher, you're a little bit closer to the summit--just following the switchback, coming to the same spot at a higher level.

Another provocative, and vaguely related (at least in my head) thought: Did you know that the strongest trees are the ones with tiny bands of growth each year? If you check out the enormous trees out West that are hundreds of years old, the sturdiest, most solid trunks are the ones where each year's rings are narrow, almost insignificant.

And the strongest trees are the ones that have gone through strong winds. The ones that have survived long dry spells, forcing their roots to go deep.

Things that make you go "hmm"...

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