Our eucalyptus forest. All these glorious trees are slated to be chopped down by native vegetation enthusiasts in the very near future, destroying the habitats of the countless thousands of creatures which call them home and share our mountain with us. Local residents are waging a serious battle against those who plan to raze our trees and restore the mountain to its pre-Columbian grassland appearance, but somehow I’m at peace either way. Because for me the forest is mainly important as the scene of my ten years of daily walks with our beloved Tibetan terrier, Bika, and I believe joyously in the past–not as something dead and gone, but as a living and dynamic reality to which I have constant access through memory and with which I have a far more profound mystical connection through faith. Because I believe that the past is a concrete place somewhere in the sum total of existence, a place we may not physically be able to reach once we have moved beyond it, but which is there nonetheless, just where it always was, and that part of us which lived in it is there too. Most people seem to think we only exist in terms of who we are at any given moment in the present: the past has vanished forever, the future doesn’t exist. But I don’t think that way at all. I don’t exist merely in the present, but in each moment of my personal past. Seen from this point of view, personal oblivion becomes absolutely impossible, and this is one reason why I believe we should make every effort to live each moment in the best way we can–because it will eternally exist, and so will we. Whatever will happen to me when my body dies is in the hands of God, and I place my trust in Him. Meanwhile, I feel quite certain that I exist on at least two levels simultaneously: past and present. Each level is dynamic, each replete with life, each beckoning me to live with deep feelings of gratitude for every moment offered. It is all one. So when I look at our forest, I grieve for what may result if the forest-destroyers have their way, but I continue to rejoice in the thought of my past decade of days there with little Bika, a decade as alive and vital to me as this moment as I sit at my keyboard. And I muse on what heaven may hold in store.