Out in the woods and man's search for meaning

You cannot get much more socially distant than when you are out planting trees with nobody for acres. Dept of Forestry had an extra box of longleaf, since they cancelled Arbor Day plantings. I have some blank spaces for trees, so I was happy to get them. It is a little late to plant longleaf, but I expect most will do okay. It is supposed to rain tonight and then next week.

Forestry has been declared an essential industry (where do you think all that toilet paper and disposal masks are supposed to come from?) You cannot work from home. Virtual trees don’t really grow. Of course, what I am doing is for 20 years from now. Presumably, people will want toilet paper in those days too.

I am also planting pollinator habitat. There were lots of bubble bees flying around, no doubt looking for flowers. My flowers will not be of any immediate help to these guys, but they will come on line in a couple months.

Anyway, glad to be down on the farms.

I listened to “Man’s Search for Meaning” audio book while planting trees. It is by a guy called Viktor Frankl. He was a Jewish psychiatrist, who ended up in Auschwitz during the Holocaust. The book talks about that in some detail, but his main point is overcoming hardship, even the most extreme sort that he experienced.

Frankl explains that you cannot control what happens to you, but you have a choice of response. He reject the idea that people are determined. He says that people need to have meaning in their lives, but each person needs to search for it. If you search for happiness you will never find it. Happiness is a side effect of the search for meaning, the desire to do the right thing and then doing it.

It was well worth listening. I read the book back in the 1990s, while preparing for my posting to Krakow. I sure did not enjoy the tales of the camps, but I cannot but admire this man’s morality and resilience. His lessons are valuable. We have choices. We should take our search for meaning seriously, but most other little problems in life do not much matter.
He made a good point re collective guilt. He did not believe in it. Individuals can be guilty. They do not get it from group membership. Frankl gave an example of a woman who asked him how he could write in German after what he had been through. He asked her if she had knives in her kitchen. When she answered in the affirmative, he asked her how she could use knives when so many people had been killed by knives. She got the point.

My first picture is me out standing in my field, planting trees. Next is one of the little longleaf growing after the fire. I worried about them, but almost all seem to have survived. Last picture is a tree-eye view of me planting. I was actually trying to take the picture of the burned pine in picture #2, but the phone was still on selfie mode. I thought this was a good picture to balance. Two pictures do not look good on Facebook. Three is a better balance.