The Tree with the Lights in It

I was reading Amanda Rudd’s post about literary tattoos the other day (no, really, I’m not getting a tattoo, I just talk about them all the time lately…) and I may or may not have clicked on a link for Contrariwise to look at their stuff (really, I don’t want a tattoo…) and I saw one with a quote about the tree with the lights in it by Annie Dillard. Personally I think the tree they picked is kind of ugly, but I think this about a lot of tattoo-trees I’ve seen. If I ever got a tattoo with a tree I would want it to look more like that cherry tree in the mural, because it’s slender and beautiful and isn’t bare. Some tattoo-trees just look chubby and dead and sad looking, which I wouldn’t really want.

So… I had a point to all this… oh right, reading about the tree with the lights in it made me want to reread her book, and while I haven’t had time to read the whole book yet, I did skim through and reread some of my favorite bits. Unfortunately Annie Dillard is almost impossible to take a succinct quote from because everything she writes is so good that I just want to copy down whole pages. Which would be way too long, but you should totally go read Pilgrim at Tinker Creek for yourself. It’s wonderful.

“It is still the first week in January, and I’ve got great plans. I’ve been thinking about seeing. There are lots of things to see, unwrapped gifts and free surprises. The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand. But — and this is the point– who gets excited by a mere penny? … But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple. What you see is what you get.” (pg 17)

“I cherish mental images I have of three perfectly happy people. One collects stones. Another –an Englishman say– watches clouds. The third lives on a coast and collects dr0ps of seawater he examines microscopically and mounts.” (pg 17-18)

She talks about a book she read about the reactions of blind people after they’ve had a surgery that gave them sight. One little girl was transfixed by “the tree with the lights in it” as she called it. “It was for this tree I searched through the peach orchards of summer, in the forests of fall and down winter and spring for years. Then one day I was walking along Tinker Creek thinking of nothing at all and I saw the tree with the lights in it. I saw the backyard cedar where the mourning doves roost charged and transfigured, each cell buzzing with flame…. I have since only very rarely seen the tree with the lights in it. The vision comes and goes, mostly goes, but I live for it, the moment when the mountains open and a new light roars in spate through the crack, and the mountains slam.” (pg. 36)

So before you start to think that I’m all serious and mature today, Mindy and I doodled on the Edward Cullen poster I got (super cheap online, because I did not want to spend tons of money on Edward) because I thought he needed a makeover. Isn’t he beautiful? I’m going to have people come doodle on him too, so eventually he’ll be even more gorgeous (or ridiculous, depending on how you look at it), and I’m debating whether I’m going to hang him up above my desk or in the costume room. Decisions, decisions.

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