The numerous weeping willows of Central Park have caught my attention in the past. A recent stroll, for me a walking meditation, led me to a particularly impressive specimen. There is some lesson for us, I believe, in the willows tenacity to live.
Weeping willows are massive, mystical, haunting and sublimely beautiful. They reside at the edge of the parks various ponds, pools and lakes. In particular I have noticed that they frequently slide or tumble forward into the water itself.
Perhaps the weight of the rapidly growing tree, shallow root system, its massive leaf burden and the wet soil contribute to this toppling over.
But of significance is this–though they may topple over, the trees do not die. They continue to grow despite assuming a horizontal position. Their tenacious roots hold onto the earth from which they emerged.
What's more. Side branches which now extend towards the sun begin to grow. They gradually begin to appear as separate thick trunks. But underneath they are still offshoots of the original.
They have changed their form. In their initial fall from the skies it might seem as if they have been defeated, undone by their own nature and the environment they inhabit.
But in the span of time it becomes clear. They are still alive and vibrant. Merely changed.
They adapt and live. They have changed but are robust and undaunted.
A profound lesson for us all.
The controversial Terrence Malick film The Tree of Life should be seen by the metaphysician-at-large who enjoys the artistic pursuit of truth. I'm just not sure this film will bring the long awaited enlightenment you seek.
It was greeted with boos and cheers at the Cannes Film Festival at which it won the coveted Palme d'Or awarded. I can understand why.
It is a visual masterpiece. An obvious homage to Stanley Kubrick's 2001 but it is, at times, tedious and obscure. The style is different, as is the acting styles. Presumablythat was Malick's intention.
Reviews I have read range from outright orgasmic ( A.O. Scott, NYTimes) to far less than impressed (Rex Reed).
It is about growing up in the fifties, facing the death of a brother, family relationships and the existential dilemma we all face–is their a reason for suffering?
There is a quote from the Book of Job at the opening of the film and it sets the tone. Job suffered without clear reason. He was a good man and did not appear to "warrant" what happened to him and his family. When questioning God as to the reason, he was emphatically told that the answer was beyond his capacity to know.
We would all like to believe that we can defer or put off our own suffering through our actions. Karma does seem a far better way to structure the universe than the notion of original sin that is expiated by belief and faith in a messiah.
Yet karma itself is a complex notion. Perhaps our past lives do play a role in what occurs in this one. Perhaps our souls accept what appears to be disproportionate suffering in this life in order to challenge itself to overcome what it encounters and evolve.
Although flawed the film deserves the attention it has received and the discussions which have followed.
It forces us to confront the often painful and unsatisfying truth–that the mystery remains.