“Quartering the topmost branches of one of the tall trees, an invisible bird was striving to make the day seem shorter, exploring with a long-drawn note the solitude that pressed it on every side, but it received at once so unanimous an answer, so powerful a repercussion of silence and of immobility, that one felt it had arrested for all eternity the moment which it had been trying to make pass more quickly.” ― Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way
As I wrote in a previous post, the time will soon arrive when the tree out front of the house will have to be removed, but with the pandemic slowing everything down, it has been postponed for the time being, and I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to photograph both the tree out front and the larger one out in the backyard. Reviewing the images, I was struck by the sense of how much larger they seemed to be these days, and decided to see if I could find some earlier pictures to compare. Much to my surprise, I was able to locate several from the day we moved in back in 1990, almost exactly thirty years ago. It seemed like a natural development to then place them side-by-side and the resulting images showed a degree of growth and expansion that is eye-catching.
Aside from the notable differences in the appearance of the house from the various improvements and replacement windows, the girth and height of the limbs is clearly visible, and several of the limbs from years of storms and wind are clearly missing in the recent images. Periodically, the power company trims the branches near the power lines as a matter of course also, but it’s usually just a few of the higher branches, and now the necessity of having to lop off so many of the larger branches has sealed the fate of our arboreal friend. We’ve accepted this necessity and understand that all lifespans are finite throughout the life cycles of every organism, but all life forms have their own unique value in the ecosystem and should be preserved and protected as far as possible. In this instance, we have acknowledged that there is sufficient cause for clearing the area, and will honor the importance of the tree by storing the wood for future use.
Digging a little deeper through the family archive, I was able to locate several images I took of the tree in the backyard, and again was quite surprised by the huge difference in the width and growth upwards that took place over the last thirty years. The backyard tree was one of the key selling points when we were first considering several of the homes in the area, not only because it would obviously be an asset as far as providing shade in the summer months, but also because it seemed to dominate the landscape in the yard in a way that gave me confidence that it would provide much more as a backdrop for all the future events that would take place in the years to come. We were going to be raising our children in whatever home we chose, and it felt like this tree represented a solid foundation for taking on that important task. Shortly after moving in, in the first Spring, I photographed our gang standing by the old girl.
They are all grown up now, but the backyard tree was a constant presence during every outdoor family event at our home in their young lives, and it has been a constant companion for us all. It’s especially interesting to look at the early image now, side-by-side with the recent one, to see the other changes that took place all around the tree. Even to my attentive eye, the tree never actually seemed to change at all as the years passed, but in fact, as the time slowly passed, enormous changes were taking place inside the tree, hidden from our eyes by the nature of such gradual exponential growth on such a small scale that it was virtually invisible. Every year the branches would come alive in the Spring, dropping the seed packs all over the yard and the deck, and every Summer the lush greenery would sprout predictably turning the view into a jungle of green and shade, and every Autumn, the leaves faithfully burst into vivid colors that could reliably astound.
Even in Winter, the tree became a vital part of the backyard landscape, and provided the same steady, constant, reliable presence, all throughout the blizzards and bitter cold.
There are many changes that take place in a lifetime, some are fleeting and some lasting, which can alter us in ways we did not expect or want, but which, nonetheless, result in forward movement toward the person we WILL be. We cannot always predict the consequences of change, regardless of whether we initiate the change deliberately or it is thrust upon us by circumstance. Ultimately, change will come, one way or another, and the only sensible role we can play in the process, once it takes hold, is in shaping our response to the change. The degree to which it can be said that we might actually be able to participate in directing the course of change when it comes, depends largely on the person we are when it occurs, and our level of experience in dealing with the changes we encountered in the past.
The very nature of life, as demonstrated over hundreds of millions of years of evolution on our planet, is to adapt to changing circumstances. We rarely consider this background of change over many epochs of time as relevant to our cosmically brief existence as sentient beings, but it seems clear that our lives today, even down to the changes that occur within our own sphere of influence over a single, human lifetime, are one of the many consequences of the countless changes that have manifested over the millennia, and by that reckoning, we must then suppose that our adaptive responses to the changes occurring in our own lives, in some way, affect the continuum of which we are all an essential component.
2 thoughts on “Time Passes Away, But Slowly”
I am stunned by the strength of feeling and emotion in the poems published here and in your later post. Lingering doubts about the road ahead. The souls still seeks moksha.
You know, your poetry seems to me to express very different feelings than your prose. Or stronger and sadder feelings anyway. Perhaps poetry is an easier way to express one’s innermost thoughts.
Had I the skill and imagination to write poetry, I suspect my poems would be full of much the same sort of themes. Although I guess I have expressed my lingering doubts and my search for peace often enough in my prose.
I hope you will not mind me commenting on the great sadness you express. Again I have often felt much the same way but had assumed on the whole that your spectacles were tinted a rather warmer hue than mine.
In a sense though you express what all of us feel. Some of us more often than others, some of us to a more extreme extent than others.
What you express is the human condition. No wonder so many have sought the beguiling comfort of religion.
In any event, I hope that this sadness will pass. As all things do. Even for one whose outlook is as black as mine.
With all good wishes
There can be little doubt that poetry in general and my original poetry specifically is of a much different character than my prose typically. Strong feelings and potent emotions are often able to be articulated in a much more effective way through poetry, although I wouldn’t describe my own as being particularly about sadness in the main. These recent entries might generously be described as expressing a fair degree of melancholy to be sure, and as a deeply personal expression my poetry, as you rightly observed, does differ greatly from my generally upbeat prose.
The subject matter of my prose writing often directs my attention to more intellectual, philosophical, and technical pursuits as a rule, but I often try to include my genuine personal feelings when the subject lends itself to doing so. As a much older person now, I think it is entirely appropriate to include examples from my personal experiences in my prose offerings, and to draw parallels between the personal and the philosophical and technical realms. The human spirit, for me, is the foundation for everything else, and I find it more useful in promoting this idea generally to offer a broad range of human insights, feelings, and experiences, from whatever sources I have at my disposal. In presenting the full range of emotions in my poetry along with the more positive and thoughtful prose, including technical information and analysis, it seems to me that it might be easier for my readers to get a more balanced view of my ideas.
Your observations about these recent entries are astute and received with gratitude and equanimity. It is reassuring to me to know that you share your genuine responses whenever you choose to reflect and comment on what I present. I wouldn’t want it any other way. In reviewing several of my pages with poetry included, I had to agree that they do seem twinged a bit with sadness at times, but as you say, the human experience includes all varieties of themes to consider. I believe you are mistaken about your own skills and imagination, and suspect that if you applied yourself to the task of creating poetry, that your full range of skills and imagination would be more than up to the task.
I did find one poem that I posted back in July of 2015 with a primarily upbeat theme, called “Tomorrow’s Promise, and offer the link to the original posting to which it was attached. Thank you so much for your close reading of my efforts to share my personal story. Warm regards….John H.
On the horizon, where darkness meets light,
My soul floats away into endless night.
The sharp edge of day, it frequently seems,
Releases the power found in our dreams.
Wonder that deepens to love would I seek,
A glimpse of eternal life, just a peek.
For there we may see our life’s meaning unbound,
Emerging as something grand that we’ve found.
Time passes in moments, some rushing by,
We don’t often stop to ask ourselves why.
Hope I uncover and try to hold fast,
Against the lonely despair from the past.
On the rim of despair is where we fail.
On the brink of our joy is where we sail.
Standing together, our hearts side by side,
Helps us to feel what our love wants to hide.
Contained in reflections, words, thoughts, and deeds,
Are every last one of life’s hopeful seeds.
In mystery wonder, in science truths,
Cruel hearts diminish, an open mind soothes.
With yesterday’s joys our hearts we can lift,
Tomorrow’s promise, an uncertain gift.
© August 2015 by JJHIII24