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  • We are preoccupied with ourselves in unhelpful ways. The clouds, however, know nothing of

  • us, they float by utterly unaware of our concerns.

  • These vast, quiet things are always to hand. There is a constant drama above our heads:

  • collisions, fractures, swirls, separations

  • Human life is no less active, but it can be a moment of relief from our particular involvements

  • to look up and be returned to a broader perspective, from where the agitations of the here and

  • now seem less significant.

  • It will all pass, even the current nastiness and anxiety, like the clouds that seemed so

  • fixed and heavy but an hour agoand yet have now moved on, leaving behind only two

  • or three of their numbers, apologetic and timid before the victorious sun, like the

  • cowed remnants of a scattered army.

  • They are an image of patience, and resolution. Their gnarled, worn barks speak of the hundreds

  • of seasons they have endured. They have bent and lost branches in winter winds, they have

  • been gnawed at by worms and beetles across the airless days of summer, they have been

  • knocked and hacked at by farmers and children.

  • But they endureas we might better learn to do through their examples.

  • All those leaves, resplendent in the summer sun, will soon be gone.

  • Human life is as terminal, but it is the example of trees that best and most gracefully introduce

  • us to the inevitable facts of the life cycle.

  • Nothing will be forever, say the trees. Enjoy these precious days, whisper their leaves.

  • They are always communicating: whispering, exclaiming, arguing (with a rock or twig),

  • confiding (in a quiet vortex), dozing (in midsummer) or shouting in rage (after a heavy

  • shower). Like fires, they provide an ideal object of

  • contemplation. Their constant activity enlivens the imagination. They don’t stare blankly

  • back at us, like pieces of paper on a desk. They distract our minds just enough that the

  • good ideas, the ones that we hate to ask ourselves directly, can feel relieved of pressure and

  • slip out - and we can make progress with ourselves.

  • We need nature not just for physical health, but - as importantly - for sanity. No week

  • should be counted complete if it does not include one or two minutes given over to the

  • clouds, the trees and the streams: emissaries of perspective, patience and introspection.

We are preoccupied with ourselves in unhelpful ways. The clouds, however, know nothing of

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