Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Arbor Day meditation

I was sitting under a tree, feeling glum.

The tree asked, "What's up?"

I said, "You know, I've done things I'm proud of, and things I'm not proud of."

The tree said, "It sounds to me like you've got something specific in mind."

"Yeah," I said. "Just some things I've said and done recently which are bothering me."

"I'm only a tree," the tree said, "but I've been sitting in this spot for centuries, collecting wisdom from all over. Tell me what's on your mind and maybe I can offer some insight."

"OK," I said, heaving a sigh. "Let's say you've gotten into a fight with someone."

"A female someone?" the tree asked slyly.

I smiled. "Yeah, a female someone. And let's say that... well... you both said things you regret. Things you might have meant, or might not."

"You're not sure if you meant what you said?" asked the tree.

"No, I'm not. I really don't know," I replied. "I sure as hell meant them the night I said them, but now..."

"Now you think that maybe you had your head up your knothole," said the tree wisely.

"Yeah, that's about the size of it. But I'm still angry, see. She said some awful things that night, and it wasn't just that night, but the night before, too. I think she meant what she'd said."

"I see. Have you thought about simply forgiving and forgetting? Have you thought about apologizing for what you said?" asked the tree.

"Apologizing? Forgiving? Forgetting?" I asked, incredulous. "Tree, I don't think I'm there yet. And the last things I said and wrote to her were... well, they pretty much killed any possibility of further dialogue."

"So it seems. You strike me as something of an arrogant bastard, if you don't mind my saying so," said the tree.

I kept silent. The tree seized the opportunity to keep talking:

"Did you ever see that movie, Karate Kid 2?" the tree asked.

"Yeah, I remember it," I said.

"Remember the beginning of the movie, when Mister Miyagi has the chance to kill that evil karate instructor, but he doesn't?"

"Yeah. Pretty cool," I said.

"Daniel-san asks him why he didn't do it. Do you recall Mister Miyagi's answer?"

I racked my brains. Then it hit me.

"He said, 'For man with no forgiveness in heart, living worse punishment than death,'" I quoted. I looked up at the tree. "Are you saying I should forgive her, anyway?"

"You're pretty good at quoting movie lines, aren't you. Yeah; try some unilateral forgiveness," suggested the tree.

I was angry again. "But she doesn't think she did anything wrong," I said, staring into the branches above me.

"And you don't think you did anything wrong, either, do you?" asked the tree.

"I gave her so much, and she kicked me in the damn head," I snarled.

"The selfsame head that's stuck up your knothole?" grinned the tree.

I simply glared at the ground. It's hard to take when a vegetable is dispensing wisdom you don't want to hear.

The tree pressed its advantage. "Just a little while ago, you expressed regret for things you've said and done. At least we know you're feeling sorry, even if you are still angry."

"So?" I asked.

"So," said the tree, "that's your starting point."

"I don't get it," I said.

"That's because men are perennially stupid," sighed the tree.

I looked up. "You're not a guy? Not some fatherly wisdom figure?"

"Deep wisdom is always female," laughed the tree.

"Women are fucked in the head," I said. "They say one thing, they mean another, they don't make any rational sense."

"And there's your problem in a nutshell," said the tree. "You're looking for sense. Do you think you can be philosophical about matters of the heart?"

"No," I admitted. "A man can try, but... ultimately, no."

"So-- back to that starting point we talked about. I don't know her side of the story, but it sounds to me like you've got some regrets. Do me a favor, would you? Try this. Stand up."

I stood up, somewhat reluctantly.

"The wind is going to blow hard in a second," said the tree. "When it does, just shout I'm sorry into it."

I didn't want to do this.

"Trust me," the tree said, apparently reading my mind. "It'll make you feel better."

A slight breeze caressed my face, then began to build.

"You ready?" asked the tree. I nodded.

The wind picked up, turned harsh. The tree's leaves rustled and its branches writhed violently. It was like watching some mysterious, inhuman struggle.

"Do it!" boomed the tree.

"I'M SORRY!" I shouted.

"The wind is still blowing! Do it again!" shouted the tree.

"I'M SORRY!" I shouted.

"Come on, keep it up! You're making progress!" exhorted the tree.

I'm sorry...
I'm sorry...
I'm sorry...

I shouted until I was hoarse. Then I finally slumped down. I felt intensely pained, but strangely relieved. It was a bizarre, paradoxical feeling.

The wind ended.

"Not bad," said the tree, thoroughly impressed. "Maybe the wind will carry your message to her."

"Maybe," I said. What was I hoping for?

"If the message reaches her, what'll you do?" asked the tree.

I thought for a bit. "I don't know," I said honestly. "I really don't know."

A soft breeze rustled the tree. I thought I could hear its smile.

"One day at a time," the tree whispered. "Just take it one day at a time."


1 comment:

  1. I can't believe I didn't comment on this at the time I first read it so many years ago.




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