In answering the challenge to depict things that endure, natural forces might well be the very first to come to mind. And yet the great natural forces — the sea, rocks, mountains — are engaged in their own wars of endurance:
Irresistible force: the ocean. Immovable object: the rocks. What happens when they meet? In the end the battle is always unequal. Given sufficient time, water — shapeless, formless, yielding — wins over brute rocky strength. The ocean endures.
Mountains also symbolize the indestructible, the eternally enduring. Yet of course they are not. Given sufficient time, erosion — water again! — wears them down also. But in the long aeons of “meantime”, what powerful symbols of endurance, in varying moods:
Sometimes the sunset skies over the mountains in Tucson are mellow and warm.
Sometimes they’re dark and brooding. These mountains have endured for centuries, and will go on enduring — but nonetheless are eroding all the time, even if we cannot see it.
On a much smaller scale, Nature manages other impressive feats of endurance. There is a gingko tree on the Smith College campus that was planted in 1901. One hundred and thirteen years later, it has become a formidable presence:
And a magnificent symbol of endurance, this time on a scale that we can comprehend.
(Still to come: Architectural wonders of endurance.)