Tall Trees and Finding Joe
As I walked my little one to the market today we stopped to look at a butterfly. Here it sat on the edge of a lavender plant just long enough that we could admire it, pronounce it, (we’re trying to move on from “ball” and “mama”) and proceed, but something unique happened. As I traipsed up the sidewalk the little friend followed us from bush to bush, landing, looking, and then fluttering on. This went on for a long city block. I thought, hmm…our daughter loves butterflies so maybe that’s her way of being with us right now as she’s in school, then I thought; my mom loved nature, so maybe that’s her way of checking in on me during my daily walks with the little man. Regardless, it left us as we crossed the street, but it got me thinking about signs in the metaphorical sense, and of course the literal sense as I was indeed, crossing the street.
Did you ever notice that when you read a horoscope no matter what it says, for the most part; it oddly fits your day or your situation and you think wow…that’s really strange? I have had my share of wrinkled horoscopes and fortune cookies in my wallet over the years so maybe it is just me, but I do believe in signs.
This leads me to the Tall Trees, Finding Joe, and a little bit of the Grand Canyon. A recent convergence of seeing both an inspiring movie about the teachings of Joseph Campbell, and visiting the Tall Trees forest in California seemed to lay a comfortable “I’m doing the right thing” feeling on my life just like the horoscope I had aforementioned.
Danny Glover has a line in the movie Grand Canyon where he says, “When you sit on the edge of that thing, you just realize what a joke we people are” I have been to the Grand Canyon, but I had the same feeling while recently visiting the Tall Trees of California. Some of these trees have been around since the dinosaurs and have grown to hundreds of feet over thousands and thousands of years. They have been on earth from cavemen, to the times of Jesus, and through the Roman empire. They have been around for the discovery of America as well as the depression, world wars, and the inventions of everything from fire to cars and computers. Something tells me they will even survive the Kardashians. When you stand in the midst of these trees it is truly awe inspiring. Yet, here we were this tiny little family on a weekend getaway looking up at these behemoths and I; just like Danny Glover’s line, had this moment of self analysis/ clarity, realizing I wasn’t even a blip in the grand scheme of things, humanity, and the world. So what am I doing here on this planet, and what actually is my purpose? Don’t worry- not going to get philosophical here, just pondering.
"All of life’s riddles are answered in the movies" is a line by Steve Martin, also in the movie Grand Canyon. Oddly, this seemed to be the thesis statement of a wonderful movie I saw in the same week I visited the trees, called "Finding Joe". Joseph Campbell was one of the leading mythology experts of our time who believed that every human takes a heroes journey, and if you look at the history of movies, stories and literature which I love, (coming full circle soon) the story is told over and over and additionally, all things in life are based around taking that heroes journey in one form or another. Each person has the potential to become that hero and take that journey, and the only inhibitors are our fears, society, and ourselves. What we do with our lives can make us heroes in any way we choose if we believe, but in that journey we must think and go beyond the limits of our possibility. I won’t get lengthy but I have been blessed by entertaining and making whole lot of people smile during my career. Even if it’s not much, I took those folks away for those tiny moments and made life just a little more fun . I really think that’s why I am on the planet, but I have not really grown until recently when I had my back to the wall, had to reinvent life, and push through some a scariest things I could imagine just a few years ago. By "following my bliss", looking past the end of my nose and believing in myself, I now feel like I slayed some dragons, and I am in the right place for just this moment. This is until my heroes journey begins again. Hopefully, not for a minute or two.
I saw this movie and visited those trees at the right time.
I only share this because I think as a fairly new parent, I am still in a process of trying to figure out what I am going to be while raising and inspiring my children. They too will begin their own heroes journeys someday, and I want to lead them not by teaching cliches, chasing GPA’s, and drilling in educational and financial goals, but by actions and examples of following your passion, no matter what it may be. Also, ideally I would like to leave them a small form of a legacy, even if it’s only the printed out versions of this crazy old blog. So someday when they stand in the Tall Trees or on the edge of the Grand Canyon and have their moment of clarity/self analysis they have more information than I did to solve that elusive life riddle. When they ask am I just a number? or did I make a difference? Hopefully they will answer the latter.
If you made it this far, I thank you for reading. Please have a great week and keep slaying those dragons. As the little known band U2 might say “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”…either.
One final thing - click on the tree picture above and you will see tiny little humans.