Today I felled a big, dead oak. It was one I had considered dropping last year, but decided was too dangerous. It was still up this year, and must be well-seasoned. I always prefer to cut standing dead wood or at least badly damaged trees, so as to provide warmth for my family in winter without hurting the living forest. But dead wood is dangerous. The loss of the organic process means that there is no longer a living principle that is ordering the tree as a whole, keeping it together and repairing its flaws. The desiccation that follows death means that cells shrink, which produces fissures and weaknesses in the whole. It can splinter, shatter, collapse in unexpected directions. A big oak, even in death, is far stronger and vaster than you.
I had skill, strength, and a 55-cc chainsaw to serve for an enchanted spear. The oak came down, hard, and I am no worse for wear. I took a moment before I tackled it to prepare my soul as well as I could in case I failed, but in truth all days are like this. Some day the dragon must win.
Today you may have read of a young man killed on the return leg of a charity bicycle trip. I have met, almost, his wife. She was at the Red State Gathering that I attended with Uncle Jimbo, and is a long time friend of his. She came up and talked to him several times while I was with him, but being a bum he never thought to introduce us. Nevertheless, I know from their interactions that she is even now expecting a child with what is now her late husband. For what it is worth, from an almost acquaintance, I extend my deepest condolences to Mary Katharine Ham and her family.
We forget, how readily we forget, the dragon that lurks in wait for us. Memento Mori. Live better in the awareness that you will die.