He’s not showy or pretentious. He’s not the tallest tree, nor does he have the biggest base. In fact, he’s not a big sequoia at all and one might not notice him at first where he’s tucked into a spot along the bank of a roaring river. For, it’s definitely the river that gets all of the attention with its cascade of falling water and rapids…..demanding the awe and respect of its visitors. That’s why he’s there. Although the water one day may try to take him out all together, she’s been his companion for awhile and it’s not as if he can move. He’s rooted in the most literal sense.
He also appears rather young, but has experienced his share of battles. Fire burned through him at the base, splitting and hollowing out a portion of his center. Someone drove a nail through him at some point, as well…..and tried to brand him with their name. A few pests have even taken up residence in his abode, although he doesn’t seem to mind.
I once visited “Tree” years ago. I had roots then too, but I took a photo of him that day and this small detail solidified his memory in my mind. You see, as unassuming as he appeared to be, when the light touched him, he would transform and the entire place there in the canyon would light up all the more with his brilliance. Yes, that was Tree and I had a photo to gaze upon any time I wanted to return to my place beside him.
I should maybe clarify that, yes, it is MY place beside him. I know this now. Anyone who’s ever loved another and has gone years without contact…..only to pick up right where things left off may understand. Such is the way with me and Tree. I stand beside him this second visit feeling as if no time has passed at all. I take refuge on the ground beneath his canopy and I stay awhile…..lounging on a blanket I brought just for the occasion. I brought a book too and I read to him about impermanence.
Perhaps, this is what has me thinking when I visit him a third time just two days later. He’s supposed to outlive me, but as I watch what looks like termites feeding on his insides, I realize that I might come to visit him one day and find him gone. That’s what happened to one of the other trees in the area that ended up in one of my photos years ago. I found it cut down to a stump…..the tree left to decay on the ground nearby.
I suppose I’ll confess that on both recent visits to Tree this time in the park where he lives, I am moved to tears….although, for different reasons. Realizing he might not be there when I return next is one of the times I openly cry there beside him. The other (and first time I cry) is when, while resting beside him, I am suddenly overtaken with feelings for this magnificent living thing and my connection to him. It is at this moment, in fact, that I rise to place my hand on him…..hoping to convey how I feel and transfer any energy coursing through me. And then, as I stand there with my hand on his face and tears flowing, I look at him and I say, “You’re my favorite.”
Now, for anyone wondering why I talk about Tree like he’s a person, I’d just like to point out the possibility that I’m not talking about a tree at all. Perhaps, I am talking about a person and Tree is just a metaphor. Or, maybe…..what I am attempting to convey is that there really is no difference between trees and people at all. We all have reasons NOT to love one another…..lack of compatibility, differing opinions and beliefs, and the list goes on and on. So much is conditional. People think…..I can only love another human, or a particular human, or a human who does or doesn’t do a particular thing, habit etc. This being the case, it’s easy enough to see why someone may think that he’s just a tree and wonder…..why so much love and adoration? My answer is…..because, it doesn’t matter what he is or what anyone thinks he is. To me, he’s the most beautiful living thing on the planet.