Against The Windby Will Heath"Against the wind
we were running against the wind
we were young and strong we were running against the wind"- Bob Segar "Against The Wind"Photogragh by Colin Lewis
On top of a rocky crag in a hollow worn out by the winds and rains of time, a collection of organic matter and sand forms a bed for a wandering seed brushed off of a birds wing and deposited by blind chance in the one place in this barren spot that it could germinate.
In this hollow the seedling grows, sending its roots first into the mix of organic and sand particles and then down into the cracks and fissures of the rock itself, constantly searching, exploring for nutrients, for water, for life.
When its height reaches beyond the rim of the hollow in search of more sun, it encounters a never-dying wind. A wind that howls and angrily pushes its might against all that is within its reach. A wind that has wore down mountains greater than the one it now does battle with. A wind that knows the true meaning of patience, that all things will fall before it in time.
The seedling's growth is directed by the wind; it has a distinct slant away from the force. Its branches are whipped around and pushed away also, and in time they give up even trying to go against the wind.
The sapling grows into a tree, beat and scarred from its battle against the wind. It has a heavy lean away from the force of the wind, it's branches are twisted back, also showing the direction and shear force of the wind, some have snapped long ago, leaving jagged reminders of battles lost.
The story's ending is known, it has always been known. Throughout the ages the same battle has happened over and over, the wind always wins, the tree always loses. But it's not the victory we celebrate, indeed it is the struggle, the battle, the persistence against certain doom that we admire and seek to capture in the confines of a bonsai pot.
Yet, I notice that a lot of bonsai are styled with the trunk facing, leaning into the wind, a seemingly contradiction to all that is natural. When I see a trunk leaning into the wind and the branches forced back by it, my mind notices and rebels against the contradiction.
Maybe, I ask myself, the branches are merely reaching for the light? But then why would the trunk have grown away from it? In the example above the windswept tree had all the light in the world; it was shaped solely by the wind. I think we can all agree that a windswept branch and one that is simply reaching for light have different characters and appearances.
Could it be that the artist bypassed having the tree work together in harmony with all its parts in order to achieve visual balance? Let's imagine a windswept tree with its trunk leaning into the wind and all its branches moving the opposite way, with the wind. Now let's switch all the branches to the other side, have we lost visual balance? Can this simply be corrected by planting the tree on the opposite side of the pot, on the upwind side? Are there other ways to achieve visual balance without creating a contradiction?
Is this tendency of contradicting imagery common? Is there a reason we ignore the obvious? Are we in fact losing sense of nature's own balance?