‘Confusion will be my epitaph, As I walk a cracked and broken path’ versus ‘I am the Tall Tree’

Lessons from the tree… This carving of ‘Our Lady of the Kaipara’ is a work in progress. I found the log washed up on our beach after a storm, and saw the form of the Lady in it. She will be holding a stone egg probably, when finished, like the Magdalene at Easter:



It’s the first anniversary of my father’s death, and I’m a little ‘organically depressed’ as I recover from a nasty cold…

That line from King Crimson has often come back to haunt me over the decades since I heard the doleful album in the 60’s, when I was young and the brilliant clarity of my Descartes-inspired mind was going to cut through the human fog of ages as I forged ahead into the glorious dawning future of humankind like the starship Enterprise, ‘boldly going where no man has gone before’.

We all go through this if we live long enough – the sense of so much rubble and mess behind and around us, unfinished business of all kinds, little mean things lingering, big mean things threatening to engulf our wellbeing and self esteem. Unpaved trails of good intentions veering off hell-ward, of brave new beginnings petering out into the misty morass of What Was… I have just packed most of my workshop detritus and precious bits and pieces and tools into this shed on our land.


I had to give up the Quarry studio – I just couldn’t be there enough. A beautiful space it was, and is, but not for me, not now… Sadness and loss, blaming and regret, wondering if we took a wrong turn, or many wrong turns. Lost in a cracked and broken labyrinth…

But no! Here we are, the sun still shines, Spring is back with unabated enthusiasm, Hope springs eternal in our hearts and runs like a life-giving brook through the rubble. And it occurs to me that the Path and the rubble etc are only one metaphor. Another better one may be that our lives are trees, with some branches that don’t grow much after sprouting out, and others that become mighty limbs, perhaps making the tree a bit lop-sided, and roots that grow one one side more than the other in response to the prevailing winds… Perhaps lightning even strikes us, and limbs fall, leaves are stripped off by the storms, and so on. Forests are messy places by human standards. But everything eventually gets recycled, becoming new soil to feed the forest. And the ‘Tall Tree’ that we are (from the Flock album Dinosaur Swamps)  – all our many branches are from one central life and yearning, none really wrong or in vain. Even if a great branch falls off and is swept away in a flood, it may be picked up by a mystic carver ‘wandering lonely as a cloud’ on the beach and turned into a vision of the Lady…

So for me the ‘false starts’ all come from my eutopian vision of the possible human and the possible society. Cafe Eutopia is fallen from me, but the Eutopian trunk still lives. Its latest sprout is the plan for a Tolkienesque village on our land on the Kaipara… see the initial Trademe ad: http://www.trademe.co.nz/Browse/Listing.aspx?id=659654612

So life goes on as it will… and it is all worth it if just one man, or woman or tree, stands upon the earth and rejoices at its existence… thanks Goethe for that thought! This is the full quote:

Excerpt from “Essay on Winckelmann,” Goethe:

When the sound and wholesome nature of man acts as an entirety, when he feels himself in the world as a grand, beautiful, worthy and worthwhile whole, when this harmonious comfort affords him a pure, untrammelled delight: then the universe, if it could be sensible of itself, would shout for joy at having attained its goal and wonder at the pinnacle of its own essence and evolution. For what end is served by all the expenditure of suns and planets and moons, of stars and Milky Ways, of comets and nebula, of worlds evolving and passing away, if at last a happy man does not involuntarily rejoice in his existence?

As Zarathustra says, ‘There ARE still blissful isles!’ Our little village on the Kaipara may just be one of those isles.

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