He lay upon the ground, atop many others just like him, discarded, wanted no more, needed no more. Dead.

He remembered being young and beautiful, strong and full of life, flexible and happy.

Now, he was old, and weak, and ugly.

He remembered that day when he first sensed what was around him, just a babe, green and very small, thin veins sending nourishment to his edges. He awoke to the world as something tickled his skin, soft and gentle, touching but not touching, moving over and around. “Ah, that is the wind.” The knowledge came to him, flowing through his veins from a place deep within. The wind? He’d never thought of it before, but something within his core told him so. He heard and he believed.

Now, he was tossed to the ground. He was confused. How did I get here?

He remembered being attached to a brown twig, a branch, and a trunk, roots flowing underneath. He was part of something great. Storms would wreak their havoc with angry gusts and torrential downpours, and he’d flow with the currents as the wind-waves pushed him back and forth, up and down, around and over. He was young, and he knew that his strength would last forever. Storm after storm and heat wave after heat wave could not diminish his increasing strength. He felt the indestructible certainty of youth.

Now, he knew the truth. Everything could end, would end.

He remembered the clouds drifting by in their perpetual journey across the sky, and the sun marching horizon to distant horizon, warming the plants below. “I am a tree,” he heard from deep within. Those who passed underneath looked up and saw a tree. Birds who nested nearby saw a tree. Squirrels who scampered across his branches saw a tree. They knew it. He knew it. He knew with certainty what he was. He was proud.

Now, he was no longer what he was. Green turned to yellow and he lay in shame on the ground.

He remembered being bright green and full of life. Beautiful. Admired. Confidence grew as he felt that he was useful, needed, wanted. Day after day, as he hung from the branch, he knew that he was a part of something magnificent, a tree. He had a purpose for existing.

Now, he was nothing, just a withered leaf, dropped because he was no longer young.

He lay below at the base of the tree. Days passed and the sun bore down, cracking his once smooth skin. He was blown here and there, across drying grass, past bushes and weeds. He shut down his thoughts and just was. A drifter, homeless, with nothing, happiness could not be found. Enjoyment was gone. Into a pile he found himself, with broken twigs, spent pine cones, and brittle leaves. Discards piled on top of him, blocking the sun’s radiating warmth. Things unwanted by the towering giants grew into piles and he felt the wind no more.

He waited for an end that never came. As days turned into months, he lost hope.

Rains pummeled him deeper and deeper in his despair, and he felt the dampness growing around him. Water gathered in small pools along his up-curled edges as mold and decay wreaked its effects. In the smothered darkness of the pile, he sensed that there was life nearby. He felt the legs tickle and wondered what was crawling across. He waited, curious, and again sensed movement. The crunching of leaves and mandibles frightened him. “Crunch, crunch. Chew, chew.” Something was eating, and it sounded like leaves were the main course. A centipede? A millipede? A rollie-pollie?

Was he next on the menu? Was this the end?

Days inched along with nothing to break the monotony. Nights slithered by at a snail’s pace while he lay there, useless. He felt himself disintegrating, breaking into smaller bits and pieces. Large became small. Small became tiny. Leaves piled on top of him, pressing him deeper and deeper into the clutter that lay beneath the towering giants that he once was. Worms dug their way under him, then pulled him under to consume the leafy parts they wanted. Other pieces were buried deep within the ground, under soil, under roots, under everything. He felt himself being spread around, here and there, his consciousness changing, his awareness altering as day followed day. Dampness and richness surrounded him, becoming a part of him, and he a part of it. He felt himself shifting, in small ways, each day, growing bigger and bigger.

Something was happening. He who once felt he wasn’t wanted was becoming something new.

One spring day, he awoke to feel a flower pushing its way through, through him. What beauty lay ahead for this flower, with the sun above to stretch for each day, and dazzling insects who visit while in flight? He thought on this and wondered how he knew such things. Where did this new knowledge come from? He could feel the roots of a maple tree, felt them wrapping themselves around him, squeezing but not hurting, grabbing but not harming, and those of pines and dogwoods, magnolia and spruce. He felt worms crawling through him, squirming to the surface to find more leaves to eat, beetles and grubs, centipedes and ants. He could sense the movement of creatures great and small, raccoons and possums, badgers and mice, an enormity of life beyond count. How was this possible?

He just knew. Something deep within him knew. Something large, bigger than anything he could have ever imagined. Something old, very, very old, as old as time itself.

He thought back to when he was a tree and the moment he’d fallen down to the ground. Back then, he believed that his life was over, but he was wrong. Back then, he thought that sadness would haunt him forever, but he was wrong. Back then, he thought that his contribution to life on this planet had ceased, but he was wrong.

He took a deep breath and felt the entire planet breathe.


Tag der Veröffentlichung: 10.12.2010

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