Redwoods, [redacted]

It might not look like a gift. But I think intent has layers, striations.

The ways in which wild strawberries are a gift are readily apparent. (Although not to all, and this already illustrates the idea I'm trying to set down.) With these, there is no prix fixe trade. The contrast is clear, between these berries and those at the grocery store. There is a strong difference between berries-as-gift and berries-as-commodity.

But I think this is only one layer!

Wild berries and commercial berries, these feel like two distinct points. Two zero-dimensional spaces. Unlinked, divorced. We could go a step further and say, oh, perhaps it's a one-dimensional spectrum, a line. Maybe it's not two irreconcilable ideas: perhaps we can start at the commercial sale end and then inch toward gift. There are ways to commercially grow berries in which the entire process is treated more like a series of gifts, and perhaps those berries would be a bit nearer to the gift berries on our one-dimensional map. This perspective is helpful, more gentle, and a good place to start meeting our neighbors.

We started with stong contrast between two very different things. We've added a spectrum. Neat. We've not done away with the contrast though. (I don't intend to do away with it; I intend only to contextualize it.)

In this one-dimensional spectrum, we're still dealing with two directions, two labels, -1 and 1, and people being people it's easy to start living by this as "good" and "bad". Better for survival, worse for survival. We see that zero-point in the center of our one-dimensional graph, and as we clock our place in respect to it we put our relationship with our neighbors in jeapordy: are they on our side, or the other? Once the line is drawn, it becomes increasingly easy to drift apart, to drift toward the poles, and forget we ever knew each other.

I need to point out here that this isn't bad. (Except as viewed from on that one-dimensional line, and even then only from one side of zero.)

Back to the berries. Gift and commerce berries, good and bad berries. (Or maybe you'd map it the other way, if you grew up in a city, on the other side of zero.) On our one-dimensional line, yes, they are mutual anathema. Irreconcileable in a moment, though you'd stand a chance if you walked along that line, appreciating the spectrum as you went. But if you didn't feel like walking, you might dig. If we add a second dimension to our graph, .. well, what is that second dimension? Consider it as a cross-section of the earth: the second dimension, the depth dimension, is where we read time. Each layer beneath us is older, and it gets older the further down you go. So too with our more abstract graph of gift and sale, good and bad (or bad and good): add a y-axis, make this 2D, and we see its history.

With this visibility, we're granted (gifted?) context. Gift and sale are not fighting for control of a one-dimensional space, willing the zero point to budge (uhhhh actually they might be doing that but we're not there yet): instead, they are slipping above and below each other, like tectonic plates. Look to the right, and then from the top down: that solid block of sale is all we can see from here, but beneath it is a foundation of gift. A sale has just been built up over the top, like sediment. If we scan back along our original axis toward zero, the sale layer becomes thinner, until it disappears at zero and we find ourselves on the left side, where gift is all the traveler would see. But again, we can back away from this map on the wall and see the layers, and look: the gift is resting on a foundation of sale.

The meaning and weight of gift is deepened by understanding the contrast with sale.

The platonic ideal of an organism has no knowledge of this. Close the book of time, and everything just is. But when you're in it, you don't get to experience gift forever. These layers terminate, and yield to each other. Tasting the sale and finding it violating teaches the importance of the gift, and makes it a relief when we focus our senses on the gift again. Generations who only experience it as gift will .. well, they won't happen at all, because that can't happen. Generations drift. Drifting from the gifting (so sorry about that) gives us an opportunity to forget, and then to remember, and that creates urgency. Holding both gift and sale in one's mind, weighing the memories of good and bad against each other, it creates the natural urgency (desire, you could call it) that propells the entire cycle forward.

It creates worlds.

It is heartbreaking to grow up with nothing but wild strawberries, and then to see their cousins shipped across continents to sit on a shelf. It's enough to make one want to find the wilds. Until you want a hot shower. :)

Close the book of time, and none of this is bad. The concept of "bad" can only be found in a moment, and even then its only purpose is as catalyst for the cycle.

Close the book of time, and none of this is good, either. The concept of "good" can only be found in a moment, and even then its only purpose is as catalyst for the cycle.

Except. Except. The whole thing really is beautiful, isn't it?

It feels like a gift. It feels good. I exist in this moment, the only place where "good" and "bad" and "gift" and "sale" and "-1" and "1" can feel like anything at all, and from here, I can imagine the book of time. I can imagine holding it open in my hands and reading it cover to cover, again and again, and when I close it, I hold it before me in wonder. Could I feel that wonder if I were outside of time, if I could indeed close and hold the book for real, and not just from my imagination as a character existing only within these pages? It would be different, at least. But from here, from my moment within the cycle, to me, the sum total of it all feels good. Feels like something to build on. Feels like a gift, for now.

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