When I was a kid we had a huge tree in our front yard.
That's what we named him: Mr. Tree.
Because he seemed not like just a thing there in our yard, but like a mister.
There is so much I could tell you about Mr. Tree, so very much. But I think blog posts need to be as succinct as possible so I will just tell you this:
I believed in Mr. Tree. I really did.
I believed that when I talked to him, as I so often would, that he could hear me. I believed that he took in every word I said and he understood it, and so I told him lots of things. Truly, I sat beneath him, knees bent and my back against his trunk, and I told him things. Sometimes I even cried. With my little knees hugged into me and my small back pressed to his trunk, I told him things and I cried.
And I believed that he was listening.
I believed that he was listening and talking back to me too. I never heard anything with my ears of course. I knew that wasn't possible. I knew that he couldn't talk the way that I was talking.
His words came differently.
They came in the soft sound of wind rustling his branches and in the deep smell of the bark and dirt all around him. They came in the feel of shade and grass and bumpy parts of earth beneath us. They came in a quiet knowing that something was connecting me to that tree and that even if I didn't understand it, I knew that it was real and that he wasn't just a tree, but a mister.
And there's so much more to say, so much. But I can't keep you too long so I will skip right to this:
I lost Mr. Tree.
He was still standing there, always has been, I think is today, but I stopped going back.
I stopped going back and I stopped talking too.
Another world sort of took over, a world that doesn't know anything at all about talking to trees. I fell into that world. Most of us do. For me I think it was a really long fall with a very hard landing that left me far away from this earth.
I got glimmers after that, lots and lots of little taps on the shoulder and soft whispers in my ear urging me to turn my attention back to the earth, but I hardly ever listened.
In simplest terms, it was like this:
Me: "Hey. What was that? Did you hear that sound? Did you feel that?"
Our Culture: "What sound? Feel what?"
Me: "That. That rustling. That call."
Our Culture: "You're imagining things. Do this. Go here. Achieve more. Want that. Fear and worry. Try to be good enough. Think, think, think. Buildings, cars, things, college, jobs, bills, television, concrete and houses. Human beings are all there is."
Me: "But I'm sad and lacking and disconnected and afraid and . . . something is missing."
Our Culture: "Yeah. That's how it is."
But it's not.
And why and how it's not is too much for this moment and this white page on a screen. It is far too much. But know this:
Mr. Tree did talk to me. And the ocean talks to us too. And the soil and the bees and the sun and the moon and every breeze that goes by carrying messages that we ignore and so it moves on and gets stronger, waiting for someone to listen. And please don't get me started about how the animals talk to us. I used to listen to them too and love them so much it hurt. It hurt too much and so I stopped loving them too and nobody was there to tell me how misguided and dangerous that was. Until one day they were. One day they were there. One day finally messages started coming in and they were so loud I couldn't ignore them anymore, or maybe I was so lost I started listening more carefully, trying to be found. And I was. I was found. And now I know. I know that animals are begging us to love them.
They beg. Literally. For their lives.
But that's for another page too. And it will get written, because I am made so heavy by what we do to life on this planet that I have to scream it every day or it will crush me.
And again, culture says: "Yeah. That's how it is."
But this time I know better and I say: "No. It is absolutely not."
So today I will find a Mr. Tree.
I will sit down beneath him and bend my knees and rest my back up against him and I will talk.
But mostly, I will listen.