The Sisu of the Boreal Forest
The conifer, as the leitmotif of this book, conjures up the essential lesson of the roundabout, going right with its slow yet steady development at first until, finally, reaching a stage of maturity at which it can go left with accelerating growth that outpaces its competition. The slow-then-fast pace allows the conifer to build and configure its structures, amassing the necessary capital, such as thick bark, a high canopy, and more efficient foliage. This pattern of development requires tenacity and persistence—the necessary ingredients of the roundabout.
The intertemporal world of the boreal forest and its strategies of survival stretch back epochs through twists and turns, growth and decline, and internal battles for survival among competing plant species and voracious herbivorous dinosaurs. In contrast, humans, who made their appearance on the planet much later, remain overwhelmingly anchored in the realm of the present, made all the worse by our inherent wiring around time preference, so that we value (indeed, overvalue) today’s marshmallows more than the prospect and potential of many more to come. Our societal attention deficit disorder steals our focus away from the protracted path, toward our shallow depth of field; thus, we become prone to making short-sighted, even disastrous mistakes with decisions that undermine the ability of our forward selves (our look-ahead trees) to act opportunistically.
Like the conifer, we need perseverance ...