Blogger of Note at Words of Wisdom

Words of Wisdom Readers — welcome to The Gnarly Oak. I am the current Blogger of Note! Thanks so much, Words of Wisdom for the opportunity and thank you to the WOWers visiting.

I live in Los Altos Hills, California; since my early childhood I have discovered profound inspiration – and learned many lessons – from the nature around me. The gnarly oaks and skyward redwoods of the area can bring one back to their very roots – the true you – untainted by society. I do not blog to preach any of my beliefs but rather it is my hope that through my work you can make your own realizations about your life, your appreciations, your philosophy. Below are links to some of my favorites, you can use them as possible starting points.

Berry Creek Falls - Big Basin Redwoods State Park - 7 miles into an 11 mile loop

Prying Open My Third Eye
A Walk Among The Sheeple
Shoes In My Brain
Starry Night
Looming Moon

La Paloma

Short Stories
The Lenses

How The Gnarly Oak got its name:
Song of the Oak

Besides these select few, The Gnarly Oak is populated with many more pieces. If you like what you see in the links above, keep reading; there is so much more!

Thanks again for visiting,
Ryan Griffiths

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Song of the Oak

Amongst rolling golden hills and between fog-covered coastal mountains are the ancient oaks of Los Altos Hills, California. Nestled sporadically over great and endless knolls, devoid of life during dry summer months, the oak trees of Los Altos Hills – so numerous around my home – speak to me in an unheard language. Like any person I am the sum of my successes and failures but unlike the masses I have heard the language of the oaks – I found meaning in their forgotten voice.

When my expectations are met by failure and my eyes burn in tears of sorrow, I set my gaze upon the oak and am entranced by its massive trunk – wider than my car – and am spellbound by their gnarly branches – twisting at unmanageable angles to find the sun that gives it life. Lost in the oak’s song I feel wind on my face and watch gusts bend the tree until it nearly breaks; I hear lightening strike its core, splitting the trunk in two and watch as it grows on – its beauty only intensified by its scars and deformities. As my thoughts meander through the oak’s past, I see my shortcomings in a new light – bad test grades only make me smarter, losses on the lacrosse field only aid in my next victory – and when the trance is broken my problems ail me no longer.

Upon success I sit in the tall golden grass between the oaks’ trunks and listen to their songs yearning for the time when artificial sweeteners did not contaminate the fleeting taste of life’s cake. Their wisdom tells me of the fullness, the potential of life. Like the existence of the oak, everything I experience – positive or negative – success or failure – represents to me a deeper relevance as part of my journey, part of my growth, part of my own mane of gnarly branches searching for what makes me thrive. Every experience my life brings me help mold my shape rather than merely fade away – another meaningless accomplishment.

Life in Los Altos Hills has given me the rare opportunity to take on the shape of its mystic oaks. I can weather a storm, yet it is what I can find within that storm – the wisdom I gain from its struggles – that makes me who I am.

I have heard the language of the oaks - I found meaning in their forgotten voice.

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Looming Moon

I look to the sky on a damp fall morn,
The early blue heaven showed streaks
Clawed by many shades of gray.
Far off to the West were mountains
Waiting for the coming day
And above them was a floating rock:
The full glowing moon.

Just as the sun blew its waking horn
From behind the Eastern peaks,
The dim orb stopped; it had something to say:
Come to me, my child, so lost you are;
Here on the craters you will find righteous way.

It is only this globe that these earthly legs can walk
But up there – where it’s glowing – my thoughts forever loom.

But up there – where it’s glowing – do my thoughts always loom.

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Palo Alto

Nothing is wrong here; everyone is smiling.
It is green and comfy. We are all winners.
This tall tree burns in the hell it is creating.

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La Paloma

Wind rippled through my hair like water through a raging river. I could feel the vibrations of the road pulsating from my feet to the rest of my body. As I looked down and saw my board’s wheels rotating over the smooth pavement of La Paloma road at thirty miles an hour, adrenaline rushed through my body with the speed of a hawk diving for its prey. These were the sensations I was used to while long boarding down the mountain roads of Los Altos Hills, California.

As I descended the road with increasing speed, it seemed to be a ride like on any other given day; this, however, was not the case. Coming out of a turn, with high speed and shifted momentum, one of my wheels struck a rock that lie alone on the otherwise buttery road. Within less then a second I was thrown across the hot tar, with nothing but my reflexes and clothes on my back to protect me. After sliding and tumbling for what seemed like miles, I came to a complete stop. I got up quick and tried to conceal the pain that shot through my body from my quickly approaching friends.

“Woah, are you okay? That was pretty gnar!” They knew I was pretty much in good health because I was standing. We had never experienced a wipe out at such high speeds before. I brushed the dust from my tattered clothes and the blood from my wounds and made my way to the bottom of the hill – muscles and skinned knees, elbows and palms aching less than my confidence. The rest of my day could have been described as pensive at best; the fall replayed constantly in my mind. I decided that my days of boarding were through and it was time for a new hobby – this choice left me with a hunger that no food could quench.

After the incident, I spent many an hour gazing down that road form atop the hill. By now, the image burned into my retinas. I was unable to board for weeks; my brain – and body – simply would not allow me. That crash did something to me – it presented me with a kind of challenge, a new fear. Every time my gaze descended the road I could hear it whispering: “You weak fool! You don’t deserve to live in these hills!”

Day after day I would return to La Paloma and stare down my prey – always unable to conquer it. About two months later I found myself again at the peak, trying to control the fear and determination that battled violently within me. Maybe it was my imagination, or maybe the luring whisper of a California breeze but hearing the taunt of the mountain that day was the last time; I stepped on my board, cast fear’s severed head into the oaken woods surrounding me and pushed off once more. Just as La Paloma had been before my fall, the run was nothing more then a routine adrenaline rush. But that fall instilled a fear within me that I had never before experienced; stepping back on that board was the toughest thing I had ever done.

“You weak fool! You don’t deserve to live in these hills!”

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Arastradero Preserve

The Arastradero Preserve

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A Walk In The Woods

I fled to the night and ran from the known,
The shadows lurked; into monsters they’d grown –
I was prey for the hunt in a forest of old.

Under the canopy I walked far and deep,
Full of fear for the monsters that creep;
Among those woods my faith must be bold.

With only the light of the full moon to hide –
I could clearly see – my problems a guide.
On I went to let anxieties unfold.

There opened a clearing, enclosed by the grim.
Even in night, these trees were not dim;
Untouched by man were these oaks of the wold.

They were capable of magic – not evil, nor divine –
And cast on me a spell of which I have seen no kind;
Soon a dark, unknown power I began to behold.

I stabbed my hand deep to dig through the mud;
Paying no heed to my hand’s dripping blood
‘Till I stood bottomed in a pit that I myself holed.

Now I live lost, in this spell bound abyss,
I chat with demons along the fiery Styx –
Always, I am stuck on my walk through the woods –
But only here, can my wandering’s tales be told.

They were capable of magic – not evil, nor divine

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