hiking with zeno

It was a on a hike on Mt. Tamalpais once that i looked down at a piece of ground i was traversing and found that i suddenly perceived that the total complexity comprised in it (just in the span of a stride: organic life, inorganic matter, an uncountable number of dynamic elements overlain, interwoven, all existing together in unique relationship to one another – in just that time, that place, but by extension every element of the microcosm imbricated with places and times beyond) must be greater than anything i could imagine any human (and certainly any calculating machine) comprehending in a lifetime of study. It was just plants and rocks and soil but it was Zeno’s paradox of motion transformed into ecology: if every tiny space contains a functional infinity of complexity, how can we ever understand enough to participate properly in a world of such spaces?

But we do move, and we can participate. Maybe it’s as simple as the Tin Woodsman knowing he had no heart and so, Baum says with a twinkle in his words, being extra cautious of inadvertently crushing the smallest creature underfoot. As simple and as difficult and as unlikely as that.

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