Before we know it we have run out of time, the time is up, the time has gone and, there’s no more time.
The opportunity has passed. one day, it will be life itself that has drained away.
Bertolt is 500 years old.
Bertolt is also a tree, named by a young boy who befriends him in Jacques Goldstyn’s book that is ultimately about death. The boy watches the scenes of the nearby town from Bertolt’s branches, makes friends with the other creatures making their home in the tree, learns about the seasons, and, then, one Spring, Bertolt doesn’t come into leaf as the other trees do. Even Bertolt’s long life comes to an end. But he must stand there for all to see, so the boy comes up with a plan from his own life.
He had once lost his mittens but from lost and found brings away two mismatched mittens – – for which he is derided by other children. Now, the boy comes up with the plan to redeem the many odd mittens and. filling Bertolt’s branches with clothes lines, in the words of Maria Popova who has introduced this story to me:
‘we see Bertolt half-abloom with mittens. Like Christmas ornaments, like Tibetan prayer-flags, they stand as an imaginative replacement for the leaves and blossoms that Bertolt’s fatal final spring failed to bring — not artificial, but realer than anything, for they are made of love.’*
As I read this, I understand I am not without some time, to understand the lives of others, to be friends with the world, to learn about living through the seasons, and to know myself in all of this. I have wasted plenty of time but I also have time left.
(*From Maria Popova’s BrainPickings: Bertolt: An Uncommonly Tender Illustrated Story of Love, Loss, and Savoring Solitude Without Suffering Loneliness. I have now bought the book Bertolt and imagine the story of the boy and this tree will reappear.)