The other day I cut down a tall cherry tree for next year’s firewood. I sawed into it and eventually it began to drop, slowly at first, then with exceptional freedom. Woven through its branches, however, was an old grapevine that was also attached to a couple small but formidable cedar trees just uphill from the cherry. And if you’ve ever tried to break even a branch of a cedar tree with your hands, you know the unbelievable amount of tension the wood holds, and how uniquely difficult it is. But when that cherry fell it yanked the grapevine, snapping the cedars in half like dry twigs. Like nothing.
Gravity is a fascinating thing to me. We are constantly in a dance with this extraordinary force. But thrown off balance, or in the case of our cherry tree, cut off balance, and it barely takes a moment for gravity to slam you to the ground with the most spectacular power. Mostly, though, and magically, we’re in complete balance with gravity, and we’ve developed an important, and perhaps underrated, relationship to it.
Because gravity is what makes us strong. Gravity is what moves the oceans back and forth, and ties us to our solar system. We build our furniture and our houses and our lives around gravity. Soon gravity will be pumping water to our house. In fact, gravity will even assist in the birth of our child.
But gravity also makes a great analogy for all the forces we build our lives around. For me, I build my life around Nature––a force of life, death and rejuvenation. I build my life around love, for my wife, our unborn child, our farm, our family. Ambition, activism, art and food are all forces I can’t help but build my life around, and all intangible forces that collectively one may even venture to call God––something that guides one’s life, yet leaves great room for free will.
Those who know me know I’m not overtly religious, but what I’m constantly learning here on the farm is you don’t have to outwardly believe in something greater than yourself to forever be at its mercy. Because we still have yet to fully understand how forces like gravity work. We know when we release an apple, or a tree, or ourselves, it will drop to the ground, but we don’t know why it will. Neither did Newton, and he said as much. So that’s what I think of when I refer to these forces as God. I think of that balance, of that dance with gravity, or love or Nature––powerful forces all acting upon us constantly––and how when we become out of balance with them, we can crash with momentum enough to snap whatever we’re tied to. These are forces we can’t explain, but forces that are a part of our entire lives whether we see them, believe in them, understand them, or not. Like I’ve written before, I’m not as much of a man of faith, as a man of proof. And I find it. Constantly.