Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Multipurpose World

About a pocketknife, John Berber said, “[O]ne could gut a trout with it, peel a pear, cut wild sorrel, open a letter, remove a stone from a goat’s cleft hoof...”

Each of the knife’s functions connote a different quality. Both the cutting of sorrel and the gutting of trout lead to dinner. The pear being peeled sits sweetly beside opening a letter, and making the goat happy is a thing onto itself. I’ve never cut wild sorrel nor removed a stone from a goat’s hoof. Only once, as a kid, have I gutted a fish. And you?

What about your many uses? One use of myself is as a daughter. That was the very self I needed a little distance from when I went for a walk late yesterday afternoon. The trees hardly grow for my sake but in their tall steadiness I felt them being guardians offering protection. Walking back right many of the animals of the park were getting ready for night.

I needed to sweat my daughter hood out of me for just a bit. Though I took my father along on the walk, I paid more conscious attention to John Berber, thought of the multipurposeness of the elements of the natural world.

A leaf is a tree’s filigree, the bed for a bug, an umbrella for a lizard, a flute for the wind and, on some days, the whole forest of leaves make an orchestra’s entire string section.

A tree is an itching post for a bear, a claw-sharpener for a mountain lion, a chair back for someone in need of a rest.

A forest is a dense and circuitous maze in which to become lost, found or a little of both.

A mountain—even a small one—is something to look up and marvel at, a place from which to view the world below while gaining a bit of distance from it, a respite, a reminder of the larger story, a sanctuary away from the glut of busyness and responsibilities, a safe place for animals who don’t live in town.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder how the phrase "of no use" became popular. No, wait a minute. How did it come to be? Every "thing" has multiple uses and purposes. Even that of illustrating how useless a thing might be for an assigned task has merit. Thinking in a (preferred) generous way, the assigner may have made a mistake, another useful creation as mistakes are how we learn things; even if the next thing we learn kills us, that process still has value.

    Some recent assignments have been those of support and supplication, and the appreciation of how and why those came about. When someone asks that you be put on a list of potential providers of care, and you haven't known that person for very long, you have to wonder what about your persona triggered that response.

    The heart entreats; I respond by asking someone for a token to commemorate an event that touched many. The gift is given; I become a receiver. Two days later, I lose the token and learn once and for all that what isn't to be cannot be forced or made to be by hard wishing.

    Multiple purposes of things…