Lao Tzu said, “a tree falling makes more noise than a forest growing,”
and yet, seated in the twilight on the old stone wall where we planted the first thousand trees here at la Luna ten years ago — at that time plants a few inches tall, now over twice our size — how clearly we can hear the sound of a forest growing!
Like the tumbling glissando of an orchestra warming up: a joyous, promising sound which one hears more with the skin than with the ear; as beautiful as the babble of running water to who can hear it, and as life-giving. Those who can’t hear it depend on we artists, to help them learn to hear this precious music.
But who can conduct this 1000-piece orchestra?
Actors, like me, can only evoke this music by telling a tale.
It was always easy for me to tell stories, until I came across Italo Calvino’s dictum, “It is the ear, not the mouth, which makes the story”… and from that day on, things became marvelously complicated.
I began to realize that when I evoked the forest, some of the audience saw, at the most, the two geraniums in their window box. I suffered, sensing the uselessness of my acting art. I realized I could never be conductor of other people’s dreams.
To save face, as an actor I tried to be as evocative as possible! But the course chosen by the spectator’s ears was always stronger than that of my mouth: again and again, the mighty forest shrank to the form of those two puny geraniums! The actor’s despair struck, and held me in its grip for eight long years.
Internet videos, globe-trotting travelogues, publicity stills, even the silly puppets on children’s television, all of these were mightier, and more attractive — than my storytelling.
In the hyper-imaged, color-saturated world, even the snapshots of my cousin’s communion, shot in the garden of the local pizzeria, convincingly imitated the Borneo wilds.
How can mere words, even the most evocative, compete with the powers of the Samsung 6? A lost cause…
Only in the woods growing here at la Luna did I find the note, the do-re-mi-fa-so of the forest growing.
And I had to listen for days to the geraniums on my mother’s balcony, to hear how, at sundown, they begin singing their scales, joining the song of the nearest forest, be that only the geraniums on the balcony of the lady next door.
That’s when the words in my stories stopped trying to evoke my forest, and settled down to being the pebbles in your ear’s pond… plop, “do”… plop, “re”… plop, “mi”…
Our next and last appointment, April 7th, will give us a chance to work out all our senses: taste, smell, touch, hearing, and even a little sight.
We will inaugurate our new sense park, with sculptures to sniff, stones to listen to, games to touch…
Then a romp, to eat on the grass.
And theater, of course. Let Natasha and Alessandro enchant you with a new show, I Will Be Your Eyes — inspired by an Oscar Wilde fable, The Happy Prince.
So we welcome the spring, in every sense!