These are questions I posed to my daughters as we were strolling through the Redwoods National Park. It is a very real place that is impossibly dreamlike. A place of wonder that appeals aesthetically to both the intellect (mind) and emotions (soul), and as we walked, we tried to connect this to two stories we finished recently: The Scarlet Letter, and The Crucible.
Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, is a book about very deep and emotional people who imprison themselves in very intellectual punishments and rules. The public shame of Hester Prynne, the private flagellation of Arthur Dimmesdale, the inability of the town's people to comprehend the child, Pearl. It's a book that puts the whole puritanical religion on trial. My kids read this book (an abridged version for kids, mind you. The vocabulary of the actual narrative is college level... even though I read it in high school, today's emoji powered young adults wouldn't make it past the first page) and were fascinated how Hester came to own her Scarlet Letter as a badge of pride. They understood the reasoning of owning a tribulation so that it doesn't define you. I was kind of impressed.
At night we pitch our tents, and hang our food away from the bears, and gaze through these towering heights at the stars, the great LED screen above, and hope that perspective always comes to us, that it takes root, and grows mighty from within.