Life of ceaseless variety

Jeff took this photo of me in 2003, on one of my many visits to Muir Woods

Jeff took this photo of me in 2003, on one of my many visits to Muir Woods

“A forest is like the ocean, monotonous only to the ignorant.  It is a life of ceaseless variety.”Benjamin Disraeli

The giant redwoods first come to mind when someone mentions Muir Woods, but the park is actually teeming with diverse life forms, flora and fauna.  Much of it is hidden from sight, or seen only on close inspection, and some (such as the clustering ladybugs) are seasonal visitors.

But I confess, for all the fascinating natural wonders available to see and read about in the park, I most often found my thoughts turning inward during my visits there, in the sort of involuntary meditative state that such arboreal cathedrals induce.  The deep layers of life I saw as I walked along were a natural complement to the complex, sometimes cacophonic forest of my own thoughts, lulling me into a paradoxical calm.  In such places, it is almost impossible not to put one’s own life into perspective amid trees that have been standing for many centuries, some for even a thousand years.

This post was originally published seven years ago today. You can view the original with comments here.


  1. Good morning, Julia! I did get to see below the surface at Half-Moon Bay and the nearby lagoon, thanks to snorkeling gear! I’ve never been a fan of being cold and wet, so I don’t swim much, but the water was warm enough that I spent hours gazing at fish!
    I’m much more accustomed to spending hours in a forest.
    These pursuits do provide a new context for pondering, and I think I think more clearly for it. What the trees say about the years is both different and still the same as what the beach glass and coral sand say, I think.

    • Susan, you may have just identified why Jeff wasn’t fond of the water, and why I love to be near it, but not in it (unless it’s a nice hot bath). I do agree, though, that various aspects of nature send us similar messages, through different details. The one overriding message I always get from nature is “Don’t worry. I’m still here, and still running things. Love to each and everyone of you, from God.”

      • Thank you, Julia. God’s loving assurance is such a balm.

  2. A walk in the woods can do a wonder of good…unless the trolls come out. Hehe.

    • Agreed…Let’s be on the lookout for those trolls and prepare to either ignore them, or fight back with kindness.

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