Dancing on the Brink of the World: Volume VI – Spirit

By Cypress Lawn Arboretum Director Josh Gevertz


Hesperocyparis macrocarpa – Monterey cypress


Creative inspiration is rarely a given. Most often, it needs to be strived for, cultivated, discovered. In my own experience, there is a certain openness of the mind and spirit that lives as an essential tenet, preceding and informing the deeply human act of making.

This notion might be thought of as a participatory dance with the muses, an engagement of one’s psyche with just the right environment and surrounding influences to become ripe for creativity. Such conditions may be intensively individual, with the process and circumstances of manifestation unique to the maker themselves. When embraced in the moment, though, a kind of flow-state is possible, an ephemeral channel from which ideas and creations may pour forth like a flooding river.  Regardless of medium — painting, poetry, prose, even plants in a well-tended garden — little of meaning can be made without such spirit.


Schinus molle – Peruvian pepper tree


Trees, for myself and I hope for some of you, may live as a wellspring of this very feeling. Walking among the living collection of Cypress Lawn Arboretum, I am ever grateful for the indelible sense of inspiration that seems to find me.  Though they stand silent, audible only as leaves rustle and branches creak on the passing breeze, the attentive person might still discern a kind of hopeful message from the wooden ones. I feel that it is so phenomenally important for us to try and listen!


Pinus pinea – Italian stone pine


There is something in this world deeper than knowledge; more poignant, even, than truth. A way, perhaps, that underlies everything a being may seek in one lifetime. Both we and the trees might find the shared path to grow together with reciprocity of purpose; an intention flowing forward enlivened by a deeply rooted sense of spirit. Really, it’s all a matter of practice, an intentional process born from the kindling fire within each of us, an essence yearning to be set free if we can only find a way to give ourselves a channel towards prolific invention. Truly, this potential may live within you.

The images and illustrations herein are a sampling of the creative sentiment that carries me forward in the journey of my own spirit, as steward and speaker for the trees of Cypress Lawn. I hope you find meaning in what you see, and go forth to seek your own muses. And please, come visit our growing arboreal marvels! The trees of our Arboretum will be here, standing and waiting for your wonderment, ready to plant the seeds of what may grow to bear the fruits of your own creative discovery.


Sequoia sempervirens – Coast redwood