The same tree a week apart.
Thoreau wrote, “Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate”.
To take his meaning to heart, I must be in a roller-coaster relationship with myself. Yet then I get wise eventually and consider the source. Thoreau had no one to love or be loved with, no children to raise, no mornings to wake up in slight terror of the dependency of his growth on another. Mrs. Emerson would give him a cold turkey leg if he cleaned out the chicken coop whether he waved a fist at the sky that morning or not. No other human being really cared about his emotional fluctuations, unless they instigated new behavior from the ax he carried into the woods. Thoreau was a bachelor who nobody needed. So he was only a philosopher in part. One can’t think out people problems if one is not among the people. Can’t be a father or a mother if he was never a parent. And remember, Buddha, who was a father, abandoned his wife and child to befriend someone else’s buffalo boy. That living might deliver a kind of lizard wisdom, but no human philosophy worth sharing among my kind.
So the financially unsuccessful painter’s life wreaks havoc sometimes in the mind of the man who irrationally clings to traditional roles handed down from generation to generation. What’s new in this modern world? Me and the family eat and sleep, one of us found a job and a place to live. I know how to cook, paint with acrylics, write, fold laundry, sift cat litter, care for parakeets, a wife and children. I am not the tree in the paintings above. Metaphorically, I am more like the weather, and the tree represents those affected by me. It tolerates my presence for both the good and bad I bring today. Stay temperate over long stretches of time, though, or lose their trust. No hurricanes. No tornadoes. No blow-downs. But no southern California either. For Pete’s sake, you’re an artist, not an accountant.
New morning. Warmer. Light breeze.
And this New Morning.
Rather have the Dylan spring dreams than the Reed winter ones below: