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June 12th, 2019
How does a tree find itself growing at the top of a mountain?
Certainly we can always imagine a bird, carrying this seed high up to the top of the mountain and dropping it. But in our quest to constantly level-up, what exactly does the analogy of a bird bird look like? Winning the lottery perhaps? Is such a smooth and easy climb more a factor of luck as opposed to anything else?
We can think for a moment about just how great a spot it is for a tree to be at the top of a mountain. The vantage point gets you all the sunshine possible, as opposed to deep in a valley below. Not to mention the great view considering as a tree you’re stuck there for quite a while.
Birds aside for a moment, how else do forests come to cover mountains?
It’s actually pretty easy to visualize and looks a lot like taking the stairs. A tree springs up, gains some height, and then shoots out a branch towards the mountain on the side where it is sloping up from the base of the tree. A seed drops from the branch and boom: another tree slightly higher up on the slope of the mountain. Repeat until the species can go no higher.
If we think about the species as a single entity that is moving up the mountain, it’s very much like the movement of our feet while taking the stairs. A foot drops on the first step, just as a seed hits the forest floor, then from that seed, growth lifts straight up and after a certain point it begins moving laterally out with the branches, just as we lift a foot and then move it laterally forward. Then the seed drops, just as we drop our foot from a height that is higher than the stair we are aiming for.
This is how trees gain higher ground, how we get to the upstairs bathroom, and how Pythagoras enabled geometry teachers to torture students.
The analogy lends itself further: the stepping process requires this up and down process. Dropping a seed can seem like a setback if the goal is to go up. But only if we look at an isolated iteration. If we look at the whole process, we see that the trend is ultimately unstoppable, even if it is punctuated at every point with a move downward.
So it goes in learning,
and so on.
And that’s it, that’s life. Just a constant trudge uphill to try and level-up.
Or is it?
Is there a way to flip that infamous contradiction on it’s head and eat cake while having it?
While we trudge uphill, we must not forget the possibility of the birds.
On our quest to slowly step up the slope, can we perhaps also try to make the very thing we seek to produce even more attractive to lucky opportunities?
It’s certainly worthwhile to try. Who knows what virtuous current in society might lift your efforts to new heights. Even if it never happens, there’s certainly opportunity to play with as we put forth each and every effort.
This episode references Episode 42: Level-Up.