The Zen of Acorns

“Know yourself to be the knowing that knows”
– Brian Thompson

Squirrels and acorns are the last thing I would ever associate with Zen, but the past week has made me feel like a misplaced squirrel who ran into the wrong forest. It is high summer in Berlin and today is supposed to be the hottest day of the year, breaking all sorts of records. The trees are at their fullest, with the apple and pear trees beginning to show of their branches heavily laden with fruit. The walnut trees I pass on my way to work are in a similar state, looking like monochrom Christmas trees. My favourite, however, are the oak trees with all the acorns.

The path I take to the bus stop is lined with a variety of trees that I can’t even identify, but thanks so several squirrels who buried acorns over the years, these trees have grown to dignified sizes and bestow on passersby shade and comfort. They also lose a lot of acorns, much to the joy of squirrels and other animals who go around foraging for their winter stocks. I looked down at the path the other day and picked up a few of the acorns, with every intention to bring them home to my cats to play with. I stuffed them in my backpack and went on. Naturally, I forgot to give them to the cats.

know what you do not know ©MTHerzog

The next day I picked up more acorns and this became a pattern. A week later, I realised that the pocket I had been squirrelling the acorns away in was full. I offered some of them to the cats to play with, but they snorted at them in disdain. “Just what do you expect us to do with these?” was the general attitude. Not even Champagne who will normally dribble things around, could be enticed.

Stuck with a bunch of acorns, I decided to experiment and plant them. Hell, my whole life is a series of experiments at the moment, so one more can’t hurt. So now I have at least 20 acorns planted in several small pots. I have no idea what will happen to them or how many will actually become viable trees next year. It is a risk I take and hope for the best – and I am the queen of risk taking. Like writing, I have nothing to lose except time. That is the thing about life isn’t it, we move along without really knowing what we truly know, what the final results will be of anything, and never really knowing how others perceive us and our work. We harbour our own self-images and perceptions, distorted as they may be, hope for the best and to stumble as little as possible, but there are never any guarantees. To expect a definite answer or perfect result is naive and narrow-minded.

The squirrel doesn’t ask why, he just does. If something is wrong with the tree, or he lost an acorn or two along the way, he won’t ask why, just move along, walk away, and move on. If he is lucky, a stray acorn or two will grow into another oak that he can benefit from in the future, but he doesn’t get stuck with asking too many questions. It is a waste of living time.

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