It’s a warm August morning. I wake up to the musical of deforestation. The rumble of the backhoe truck, its fork scraping against trees, the chatter of working men and then the fatal snap, one after another. So of course it has been a turbulent start to the day and it continues as they clear the land in front of my room to put up a fancy supermarket.
I was never a fan of funerals, could never process them. I don’t have a normal reaction to death, just a blank expression. And yet I keep returning to my window, like a mourner to an open casket, coming in to check on their deceased loved one, worried about them even after their passing, throughout the day as the sight before me turns from a luscious dark foliage to the dull green of dying leaves and the rich brown of soft, turned soil.
You’re probably wondering if this entire piece is going to be sad and a bit morbid, but there’s some good in this, I’m trying to find it, I promise.
While my fondness for plants began with cacti as a teenager driven by the Pinterest aesthetic of the mid 2010s, it blossomed into a more genuine love of nature passed on to me by a mentor, and now it has grown to be spiritual, a religion almost. Nature is my religion, and the earth my church.
Have you ever related to plant metaphors? I love them. There is so much within plants we can find true about ourselves, but they are so much purer, like dogs. Or babies. I suppose it’s easy to connect with them in the sense that they are pockets of life, just like us. So many different kinds but all trees, and each kind has its own biological make up. The well-being and growth of a plant depends on its soil, the amount of sunlight and water it gets, the fertilizers we add and the space it’s given. The same goes for humans, growing to our greatest heights or being the best version of ourselves is determined by the grounds on which we were raised, how we are taken care of, what we add into our lives and our environment. This observation comes from personal experience. I outgrew my pot ages ago, and while I can’t quite move into a better one just yet and flourish, I can identify when my own plant babies need a change of space now.
As the trees are coming down before me, I am focused on the pain they must feel. And it’s got me thinking, ‘We are not worthy, you shower us with everything we need and we’re cutting you down when you deserve to be honored and revered. You could live and grow to be older than any of us. Get up! Pull those roots up like a skirt that’s too long and run! Please! Save yourselves!’ But they won’t; they were not designed to. Trees are providers, they offer shelter, nutrition, the very air that’s keeping us alive for the price of absolutely nothing. Giving is their purpose, the entire reason they exist. And no amount of my vivid imagination, empathy or passion could save these particular trees.
Having to accept resolve, I took a few pictures of my view (because what is a millennial without her digital memories, or an aesthete without her photographs) with the bitter feeling of regret of taking time for granted, of missing the beautiful day to day opportunity to walk through my little forest like the magical ones I grew up reading about. Putting my phone down to be more present, I took one more look at my beautiful view and my body folded into a child’s pose, like a faithful pilgrim before a saint’s tomb, and I crumbled into a sobbing mess. My go-to in any less than ideal situation now is to practice gratitude (10 points for Hufflepuff!) and so I thank the trees,
‘Thank you for the fruits’ (I will miss the mangos, the belis, the ambarellas and the bilings)
‘Thank you for the butterflies’
‘Thank you for the magik’
‘Thank you for the adventure’
‘Thank you for the coolness’
‘Thank you for the beauty’
‘Thank you for the leaves’ (at this point cohesion was out the window, but gratitude is gratitude)
And then I paused for a moment, mind blank, before a voice from within, that I can only assume (and hope) was my spirit, said, ‘Thank you for being my friend.’
After a few moments, I took a deep breath and sat up. The trees dance with the wind, as if to say it’s going to be okay and a moth or butterfly (honestly, I’m not sure, my vision was still blurry) fluttered into the room, around me and off again.
I suppose the good I was looking for previously is this – There is good and bad and neutral. Action and consequence. And there will be many things out of our control. But there is also hope and magik. They are in and around all of us, trees and humans and we must try not to lose sight of it. I will never cross a wooden plank bridge over a small ditch to my little forest, as forestry as it can get in an urban town, again. May never watch in awe as a butterfly, or several, in their browns, whites and once a bright blue, flutters overhead a few steps away from my house, because now theirs have been torn apart. My sleepy morning eyes will no longer take in the day with beautiful white kovakka blossoms and watch a squirrel have his breakfast upside down as I sit in my bedroom. But because of what I lost today, I will nurture, support and listen. Give care and provide. I will be strong and rooted and generous. I will be present. I will dance and love unconditionally and bring peace. More than I have before, or at least I will try to, just like the trees taught me.
edited by Nadeesha Paulis