What doesn’t kill you


This is not a “normal” tree branch. If indeed there is such a thing as normal – but as humans, we do thrive on categorization, so let’s assume normality is a thing. Or at least prototypicality. There are prototypical specimens of things – a chair is a prototypical piece of furniture, a divan less so; a hammer is a prototypical tool, whereas a jointer plane may not be found in the average household.

And the above branch is not a prototypical pine tree branch.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. (See exhibit A…) It also doesn’t mean this kind of snaky, unusual branch is BAD. It doesn’t mean it should be sawed off, or that the whole tree should be felled to rid the woods of its excentricity.

It just is. It grew in one direction, and when that didn’t work out, it changed into another. Was it the wind that made it grow so strangely? Was it something else? Does it matter?

Well, alright, it sort of does matter to me because I want to know how things work, but I wouldn’t cut the tree down if the branch wasn’t formed by the wind. I wouldn’t say, “The tree chose to grow like that, so it had it coming.”

Yes, there is the so called normal. Yes, there are prototypical specimens of things. But there are also grey areas and pangolins and vagueness, and that’s totally fine. Research by Mary Douglas once showed that cultures where anomalies were revered as divine were more peaceful than others.

I have no trouble believing that.

Look at that branch. It’s charming. So just let the strange ones be.

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