15 July 2006

Of Stoics and Peter Pans, Pine Trees and Aspens

It's Saturday morning, and while our house sits in the shadows, the sunrise illuminates everything across the valley from us.

The branches of the pine trees wave stiffly in front of my window, they are always very tight; they would have a tough time with backbends. The aspen on the other hand quake with delight at the merest breath of air moving across the mountain. They are so happy to dance, so happy to be in the summer. Maybe because they don't get to witness the winter in their leafless sleep.

The Pines are the Stoics. The Aspens are the Bodhisattvas of the forest. And then there are the Peter Pans of the forest - and since they have no roots, depend on everyone else for their fantasy life, and have no care for the consequences of their acts - I guess there are no Peter Pan trees at all; just guys in Humvees roaring into your local national forest or running for national office.

So which am I, Aspen, Pine or Peter Pan? Well, I'm not a Stoic that's for sure. Though I can be bullheaded and stubborn. My Dad, bless him, was a Stoic, though he might not have known that exact word. He tried to take a rational approach to everything in his life. Passion, gut instincts, leaps of faith, intuition -nope. Me, I have leaps of faith all the time - "look before you leap" is a mantra I have never understood. I also have passion, gut instincts and intuition in spades - which for a lawyer can be a a little troublesome to his clients.

I used to be a tad involved in the whole Peter Pan Syndrome thing (for an opposing viewpoint see Never Grow Up). I identified with that whole not wanting to grow up or be responsible, narcissic, not gonna take care of business kinda personality.

But neither approach is really all that satisfying - especially the Peter Pan path. At least Stoics get credit for some great ancient Greek philosophy. Peter Pans get derided for buying Porsches at age 43. But hey - at age 43 I was driving a Saturn. Still its hard to see the full benefits of growing up to become a Stoic Pine - no matter how majestic looking.

If I could fly, and perhaps I can, I wouldn't fly away to Neverland. Instead, I am trying to become an Aspen. To take joy in even the littlest breeze that comes my way. I have put down roots, and now I have lots of visitors to my branches - from hummingbirds to my kids.

I'm not going anywhere. I am staying right here in this amazing morning where Charlotte is sleeping in the next room, the air is thick with the scent of wildflowers and brewing coffee, and the aspen all across the mountain are quaking with luminescent joy.


Credits: Painting from cydneytaylor



Heather said...

What a beautiful post! Aspens are my favorite trees. I love how their leaves shimmer in the wind, how the leaves turn gold in the fall. That gorgeous, spring green.

I, too, need to be more like the Aspen.

Thanks for sharing this today. Just what I needed.

country girl said...

Great post. Your writing just keeps getting better. We should all be Aspens, but then who would take care of the serious stuff. The world needs a few stoics, but not too many. As for Peter Pan, it was a great book and movie. Thanks for driving a Saturn in your 40s.