December 27, 2012


On an overcast day in the suspension after Christmas, I went for a hike at a nearby preserve. The trail has a good deal of uneven ground, rocky hills and steep gullies that challenge the body in useful ways. The only encounter along the way was with a couple of young Indian fellows who called me “sir” and deferred the path to me. There was a young family somewhere that I could hear but not see.
I stopped at the bench on a dock overlooking a pond that I like. I often go there to watch wildlife or to read. 

Music: "Habitual Ritual" by Revolution Void

On a path nearby the young family, whom I could still hear but not see, drifted by. A loud boy among them loudly thwaked, with a stick that he must have been carrying, random things that drew his aimless wrath, a tree, a rock, a shrub. The ducks I was watching were startled, momentarily alert, then returned to their patrolling and feeding.

On the hike back I saw what appeared to be the evidence of the boy’s handiwork - among them a sapling mindlessly stripped of its young shoots. I attribute this to juvenile affectlessness. That his parents didn’t rein him in is a bit harder to fathom. But is the boy unlike any other randomly destructive force of nature? An agent of natural selection. But I was glad that he, like any other such force, had moved on.

Last night, in the synchronicity that sometimes occurs to me, I read in Brideshead Revisited: "He was cruel, too, in the wanton, insect-maiming manner of the very young and fearless..."

As for the tree, unsentimental nature throws her weight behind species, favoring kinds, not individuals. It’s for us to notice instances. Make out narratives. Pass them along.