Rise to fall. Rise again. Rise anyway.
A festive spring post on faceplanting, failure, mess, and the inevitability of death. 🐰
This week’s newsletter is a simulcast, by which I mean it’s a copypasted and lightly massaged Instagram post I wrote this weekend as part of the American chestnut restoration volunteer chapter account I maintain in my off hours.
I’m mostly doing the old CTRL-V here because I think the advice in the post is just as applicable to creative iteration — drafting, erasing, submitting, revising — as it is to endangered trees. I am also copypasting because my household is trapped under the cloud of a nightmarish chundervirus that spreads slowly and lingers for weeks, and, well, I give up. MAMA TIRED NOW. MAMA VERY TIRED.
Anyway. I hope you have a good week and that instead of the usual Sunday Scaries tonight, you feel a little warmth: We’re all struggling. We’re all still here. We’re together. And you’re not alone.
Happy Easter / Passover / Ramadan / whatever way you mark this season of new growth.
I want to tell you a story about some of that new growth happening right now: the millions of baby American chestnut trees emerging in their native range. Blight only attacks American chestnuts aboveground; it doesn’t affect their roots. Combine this with the fact that castanea dentata is a scrappy species, fast to regrow, and voila: millions of chestnut sprouts still rise each year in Eastern forests, despite the species’ functional extinction. The sprouts are doomed; blight will find them again within a few years. After which more sprouts will follow to rise and die. And rise and die. And rise and die. And rise and die. Until they don’t.
The American Chestnut Foundation’s mission is to help these trees pull themselves out of evolutionary stasis. Scientists and volunteers alike carry blight resistant seedlings toward one another. We graft. We pollinate. We hope. We tinker. And after several decades of this, we are firmly on track to succeed.
In the mean time, sprouts continue to die young. They rise anyway.
In the morning, I hope you, too, will rise anyway.
Rise knowing you will die, probably before you are ready. Rise to lose, fail, wilt, rot, and decay.
Rise anyway, because we live in a world where human love has life-resurrecting power. Rise in anticipation that its power will one day find you.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Rise for the eventual morning in which you receive the shock of a lifetime, rising in expectation of another miserable go-round on life’s carousel of solipsistic despair, only to discover someone new. A friend! A friend made from the same rare stock as you. The joy! The relief! It feels like peeling off your sweaty sneakers on a hot day and dipping your bare feet into a cold mountain stream.
This euphoria will pass, too. Rise anyway. Immortality was never the point; evolution was. Life rises to evolve.
Without love and connection, it turns out, evolving is impossible. With them, it’s not even hard.