Each tree in the forest has its own locale for life. Its own point of view for its life. A place of birth. To begin. To live. Defined by it. Adapting to the many changes it awaits. Surviving from where it is. As best it can.
One, tall and straight, stretches to kiss the sky each day. Another is clothed and full of coat and rich in color, roots deeply embedded into the darkest brown moist sweet sugar dirt. The next, a crooked brother, short and bent by the wind, shaped for it and by it. Then, the scraggly sister with bare feet gripping to life on its rocky hillside, taking what only is needed to live fully.
In the forest, equal does not mean same. Neither does it in our lives. In our forest, where we live, we all share the soil. Our possibilities are endless. Our lessons outnumber our lives. As seedlings, we attach ourselves, dependent and individual in entry and exit, in life and in death.
In our forest, greed and compassion reside together. It is all of life after all, utterly imperfect. Little scrubs find a home in a place where once powerful landlords huddled together to keep the sun from the smallest and weakest. The greediest always forget that gangs and bullies ultimately devour their own. The tiniest scrubs waited while the self proclaimed great ones turned on each other, leaving a soil rich for birth. Taking what they're given. Not what they want. The smartest kings learn that the kingdom is healthiest when they make room for the smallest to plant roots that will draw and hold moisture not only for their tiny selves, but for their protector.
In our forest no voice is unheard. In our forest, listening is the art.
I am overwhelmed at the voices I hear in my forest. Delighted by the stories I hear. The millions of opinions, in tones, shades, shapes and resonances. In my forest there are no foreigners. Only languages I have not learned yet.
About two years ago, I planted my little butt seedling here at OpEd. I picked a spot where I hoped I could hear as much as possible. I did not want to be in the dark shadows of the Redwood or the Sequoia. Neither did I wish get scalded by the sun, out in the open and alone. Exhausted in my quest for control and certainty, I gave in to not having either.
I found a spot and began to listen. A place where I could answer if need be, without having to yell across the plains. I didn't want a martyred life. I had lived much of my own life fluttering through, hovering safely above the party. Waiting for a perfect spot to set down. No such place. Silly me.
I remembered how giving up my expectations some 12 years ago gave way to me having my loving family. But I still had inside me a quiet passion to stretch out. To find something more for me in my world, for my world. To answer a voice that told me we are part of.
But mostly I wanted to listen. To any and all gracious enough to come closer. And yes, also to be heard.
What I found were voices that have enriched my world. Sounds and shapes that have been like threads to a tapestry of new colors in this world I am part of. New and different thoughts and opinions. Wonderful new ideas and perspectives that have improved my eyesight and my empathy.
And one thing. Most very important.
I have stopped waiting for the world to change to my vision. I have changed my vision of the world. And I have learned how imperfectly beautiful the world is. How freaking painful and haunting truth is. How we are each a part. How we each are essential. Without the other, our image is forever incomplete.
With all joy I say, we are not alone. I thank you all.
P.S.: I had thought as I began to jot this down I would label all the various folks I reside with here at OpEd as different trees. Oak, pine, etc. You can guess what I may have considered the Yosemite version of Tom Murphy or Mark Sashine. But I will leave it to each of you to determine how we each see each other. That is after all what this is all about. Our lives. Separate yet joined.
I am grateful and thankful that I have found here at OpEd a forest full of life. I have listened to, argued with, been awed by and quite simply moved to feel that we are very capable of handling all that we rant about as if we can't.
It also crossed my mind that living in the forest is in and of itself a privilege.
I see the forest for the trees.