Friday, September 16, 2022

The Fallen


Tibouchina urvilleanum

It's about a week from the fall equinox, that evanescent perfection of Earth's balance of light and darkness. As we tilt toward greater darkness, plants will cannibalize their green chlorophyll machinery and sequester energy for the future. Leaves will fade to yellow, then brown, and finally give in to gravity's embrace. 

Just the other day I walked past fallen royalty, the purple petals of princess flower on Noriega Street. The tree's energy will now turn from flower production to fruit formation.

Leaves and flower petals aren't the only things that fall. I streamed a movie the other night despite knowing nothing more about it than the fact that it starred Harry Dean Stanton. I almost turned it off during the slow beginning, which included scenes of an old guy doing his morning exercises in his underwear. Something that happens pretty much every day where I live. In fact, I hope I'm still doing it when I'm 90 years old like Harry was in the movie, called Lucky

I think I was reaching for the remote when the pace picked up in the nick of time. That might have been when David Lynch appeared, full of years and quirky lines such as, "There are some things in this universe, ladies and gentlemen, that are bigger than all of us. And a tortoise is one of 'em!". (Although David Lynch has a brother named John, David is not related to the movie's director, John Carroll Lynch.)

You could be forgiven for thinking of Lucky as more of a winter movie than a fall movie. But Harry's fall from grace is a metaphor of humanity's fall from grace, its banishment from the Garden of Eden for breaking a rule. Don't light up. Don't become enlightened. If you eat the fruit of knowledge, you will be expelled like a fallen angel. Personally, I like to think that story is about the knowledge of good and evil being the turning point between our animal state of nature and our cultural state of civilization.

Not that I subscribe to any such arbitrary notion that civilization is antithetical to nature. Even if we insist they are different, they remain entwined. And if you wonder which one is the real boss, think about where civilization would be without abundant fresh water. Here we are in all our glory, fancy-pants human beings, utterly dependent for our lives on one little molecule.

* * *