A Hundred Redwood Trees

A friend texted me today asking if I was busy. How to answer such a question? No, and it may be "I need help installing Word on my impossibly slow and unresponsive computer." Yes, and I'm an asshole.

"No what's up?" Please don't be a tech issue. Please don't be a tech issue.

"I feel lost. I don't know what I'm doing with my life. I don't seem to be motivated by anything anymore. I don't know where my passion has gone."

I double check the sender to make sure it wasn't me.

Sigh, — how to help you dear friend when it is I that needs help?

I've always had the luxury of giving up. That is, giving up on any present endeavor would not have harmed me in any significant way. Rather, it was more that I would with some probability miss out on something good, but, ah well.

Time and time again, a new hobby or passion would enthrall me — one wildly more exciting than the last. And when it got hard or uncomfortable, giving up began flirting with me, and I could not resist her advances.

I have this time around however carved so deep into one single direction that I cannot see any other way I look. Of course, my mistress still comes to visit, even on this long and winding path — give up and let go, and let us explore a new freedom together. I close my eyes and get closer. I can feel her breathe against mine. At the height of anticipation, my heart a second away from beating out my chest, I pull back. I can't do this. I'm so sorry.

She leaves embarrassed. But she'll be back.

In the morning, I check the map. I look up and straight ahead. Then back from where I came. Is today the day we turn back? It's like the joke about the man who swam half way across the ocean before turning back from fatigue. Amusingly, I'm at a point where going back would probably be more work.

So further I walk into the canyon I've carved for myself. When I reach the edge, I'll sit and rest for a few days. Then I'll awake on one day, tired and wary, and begin carving languidly from the edge. The dust from the falling stones blankets my eyes until I have no choice but to call it a day. I'll rest another week, sometimes sleepwalking in the middle of the night towards the wall with my chisel in my hand. I fall back to the ground before I ever make it.

Often, I'll look at the stone wall in my way and ask myself, "how bad do I want to chisel today?" The wall increases in opacity each day, and now I see only black. I cannot see even a centimeter beyond it. I may chisel for weeks and weeks without seeing anything but black.

And so it is everyday the same confrontation. On what fuel am I running? Imagine you were in the woods and everyday saw a bear clawing away at a huge rock while making very little progress in erosion. Without fail, you arrive bright and early in the morning, and there he is, that poor bastard just clawing away at the rock. Doesn't he know it's just more rock?

So too does it seem insane of me to continue. Can't you see? It is absolute insanity for me to march straight even though I cannot see ahead of me. Is it not mental? Put him down. Shoot that poor bear and rid him of his misery!

This is the madness we operate under today. To carve and carve even though we may not even be sure what's on the other side — this is obsessive madness and borderline insanity.

And it would explain why I seem to be losing my mind.

These days I carve out just a little each day. I've nestled in to this new canyon and have made myself a nice home. The other day I lit a fire under the moonlight. There was a nice wind, and the mint of the trees danced with the crackle of the fire  — I inhaled it slowly. I looked around my new settlement in contentment. I noticed new types of trees that I had not noticed before, and unknown animals rustling in the distance. I've discovered new elements and materials, and have devised plans for new tools to chisel with, on some future day. I look back towards the path from which I came. But where there was once a worn path, there are now a hundred redwood trees.

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