"Paris! Paris!" they shouted.
"Beirut, Beirut," some whispered.
"What can we do?" I asked.
"Bear the storm & seek the sun," said the trees.
"But Trees, do you not snap from the force of the storm?" I asked.
"Sometimes," they replied. "All the more reason to be rooted together."
"That is a wise thing, Trees. But what of the hurt? You lose so many," I said.
"The losing will always hurt. But the standing helps."
"That's also a wise thing, Trees, but hard to do."
"The world is a hard place. It is why we forest & grove together, making the soil soft."
I wrote this yesterday in pieces via Twitter. Sometimes, it’s easier to work out grief and tired frustration in tiny bits. I shared it with a few people, and it seemed to resonate. So I share it with you.
From Beirut to Paris to Yola (and minutes ago Kano, another Nigerian city), it’s easy to lose yourself in the emotional exhaustion. How, unless it is our loved one, do we keep up with grief in this world which seems so content to hand us so much? At some point, we just don’t. We accept the numbness to the violence, to the images of death and hate, and we live our lives as best we can knowing that we’re surrounding by terrible things that await just beyond the light of our tiny campfire.
Which is why I talk to trees about it. Or to the breeze or the stars should the trees be otherwise occupied. But the trees are the best listeners. They remind me that time is long, stretched to accommodate ring upon ring upon ring. That time is hard, hell-bent on stripping protective bark. That time is lonely, content to outlast the best and the worst of us until all our noise is the quietest quiet. We can learn a lot from the trees. I think we have to, lest we give in to our anxieties about how we can possibly make it in this hard world. And maybe some of us will give in. Some just do. But if we collect ourselves, grow ourselves collectively, then maybe it’ll be that much easier. Maybe we can love others when we can’t love anything else. Maybe they can do us the same kindness. Maybe. And then, maybe the world will be a place of trees again, which is a nice thought.