ripe & decaying

March 20, 2017

I am reading Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (Roman Emperor, 2nd century) and this stood out (Book 3, In Carnuntum): “We should remember that even Nature’s inadvertence has its own charm, its own attractiveness.”

Unsure of exactly what “inadvertence” meant, I looked it up. From Dictionary.comthe act or effect of inattention; an oversight.

Some examples provided by Mr. Aurelius (can I refer to him that way? seems weird…he was a Roman Emperor, for crying out loud):

  • the way loaves of bread split open on the top when they are baked
  • ripe figs beginning to burst
  • olives reaching the point of falling off; the shadow of decay gives them a peculiar beauty
  • stalks of wheat bending under their own weight

Reading on, he seems to be making the point that reality is beautiful in all stages and that we must be tuned in to see it. If we have a feeling for nature, we will find that it all gives pleasure, even the distinct beauty of old age in men and women.

I got to thinking about the word “ripe.” From the same dictionary source, I found this definition: advanced to the point of being in the best condition for use, as cheese or beer.

When I came home from the gym the other day, sweaty from a tough workout, and even the cat wrinkled her nose at me when I tried to smooch her, my husband called me “ripe” and ordered me to the shower. Hmm….

Another phrase from the book that lured me in: the shadow of decay. Mysterious, it is.  What does it mean? The shadow of decay…


There is a fine line between ripe and decay. Is that where the shadow resides? Ripe is good and decay is bad. Is it that simple?

Anyone who has experienced the process of having a tooth drilled and filled will tell you that tooth decay just plain sucks. On the other hand, many a biologist will tell you that decay in the forest is not only necessary, but good. This is the recycling process that is essential for a healthy ecosystem.


The circle of life and whatnot…

No Comments

  • Reply tippysmom2 March 21, 2017 at 10:06 am

    Excellent musing. As with everything in life, or at least most things, they can be both good and bad, depending on the circumstances.

    • Reply thewoodlandgardener March 21, 2017 at 7:34 pm

      thank you! Yes, completely agree with you about the good and bad. Sometimes it is all in the circumstances or how you are looking at them.

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