A visit to Mount St. Helens National Monument should disabuse one of the Cartesian dualistic notions commonly held by humans. The false dichotomies are blatantly exposed by the awesome destruction as well as creativity from an emergent entity that is essentially governed in a bottom-up manner by stochastic processes.
After spending the night dancing away at the Ohm and the Cobalt Lounge in Portland, we made our way back to Seattle via Mount St. Helens. We decided to check out the mountain from the Windy Ridge Viewpoint, which enables one to witness the destruction created by the exploding volcano, going against the direction of the blast, as well as the subsequent growth and renewal.
The views don't lend themselves to easy description. Previously set in a lush and pristine Washington forest, the dead trees are all neatly lined up in the same direction, caused by the force of the blast (up to 670 miles or 1072 kilometres per hour, with temperatures rising up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit or 315 degrees Celsius), presenting a starkly contradictory picture. The fallen trees have created a dam around Spirit Lake, within which life thrives.
There's something amazing about this self-infliction of a massive wound that is healed by the same forces responsible for it in the first place. As I try to expound in the essay I wrote on death, within life there is death and within death there is life, and they are both one and the same.
I unfortunately didn't think about taking my camera with me and wasn't able to record any pictures, but I suspect it won't be long before I make a return trip at which point I'll add the pictures here.
Mount St. Helens is definitely worth a detour. It is unique as a national monument, and has a few lessons about life in store as well.