Branching out

A story on growth.

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I imagine this tree, so tall and strong. Helping other trees up towards the light. He lets them wrap tightly around his roots, pulling as they slowly coil and stretch out towards the sun. The bigger tree can feel the pressure mounting. He tries to plant his roots deeper into the ground but the soil is taken up. There’s no more room. What will he do?

I imagine this tree looking back over seasons, wondering how he got here. How he grew to be so tall. If growing up had been the right direction for his life after all.

What if he had just reached out? Spread his branches far over the land. Had he planted his roots in the right place? He let out a long sigh as the wind rustled his leaves. The few he had managed to hold on to this season.

I imagine the pulling. Coiled around like a snake, squeezing intermittently at his life force. The tree welcomes his friends. He feels the weight bearing down on him, his roots coming up just slightly, gravel washing underneath him as the earth beneath him begins to shift. Yet he stands firm, knowing if he continues to reach up there may be no space left. I imagine his slow panic as he thinks about how to continue to provide a path to the light, when he’s losing grasp right beneath him.

I imagine his terror as his little family keeps pulling. He feels the pressure. Again, he tries to plant his roots. Growing over the pebbles, allowing himself to be exposed. He doesn’t think about the old days, when he felt the dirt soft against his roots. When he stretched out his limbs and didn’t feel that pressure. He doesn’t pay attention to the cold ice, penetrating his exposed root, trying to freeze his core. Instead, he thinks about his path. He’s always known he would have to grow up. That he would help his friends reach for the light with him, but had he considered another way?

I imagine a pounding rain washing down the mountain. A hard crack of lighting hitting a nearby tree. This particular tree had lost his footing seasons ago. He’d stopped searching for ways to grow and he let the elements wash over him until he was just a ragged core. He hadn’t tried to spread his limbs for seasons. When he looked up, he just saw shimmers of that old familiar light. When he looked down, he saw his roots. Raw. Eaten away at. Exposed.

Why hadn’t he just reached out? Spread his limbs far across that land. Paved a new path for him and his family? It was too late now. The lightning cracked and he let himself split under the heat and pressure of the bolt.

The thunder rolls over the hills, rumbling, vibrating. Penetrating the hardened ground. The gravel shifts beneath the tree’s roots once again. But this time the tree has been mindful. He feels the pulling again. He pulls back, taking firm root on the edge of the field. He feels the gravel shifting as a gentle stream bubbles beneath his roots. Tickling his core. What was this sensation? Was this what he had been missing?
He feels the pulling again. A bearing down sensation and the coils tightening. He gasps for carbon dioxide as the gravel shifts beneath him again.

I imagine he remembers the other trees that came before him. How they were able to keep growing with such apparent ease. What was it about them that made it look so simple? Another loud crack of lightning strikes around him, forcing him out of his daydream. He hears a loud crash nearby and searches in panic, laying eyes on his fallen friend.

The pressure overwhelms him. The heavens open up and the pink sky cries out hard pellets of water, as if serving a punishment. It didn’t have to be this way. Again, he feels the pulling. Suffocating.

Over the season new vines had made their stance; growing and pulling. Squeezing and stretching up over his bark. Stealing away at his small rays of sunshine.

I imagine the tree watching his surroundings, grasping for footing and being welcomed by the soft mud along the field’s edge. He remembers that gentle feeling. He feels a hot ray touching his budding limbs and he reaches up but is met by the shadow of the trees around him. They overwhelm him.

How had he not noticed them before? He’d spent so much time helping his friends towards the light that there wasn’t any light left in that direction. He remembers his fallen friend. He wishes he could just reach out but it is too late. Another season passes.

I imagine this tree, searching for the heat of the sun through the shadows, letting out a loud sigh of oxygen as he reaches out one more time. But something is different this time. The pressure that mounted after all these seasons and the gravel and dirt that shifted beneath his roots had changed him. The earth feels different today. He notes its textures, wet and soft, stretching his roots out, acknowledging the gravel that had hurt and exposed him just a few seasons ago. It had forced him on this new path. As he reaches out over the field, his limbs burn in the heat of the light. Suddenly, the things that seemed to stunt him before have gained a new meaning. He plants his roots hard into the field and remembers the feeling of the harsh, cold rain pelting at his bark, the friends he tried to help along the way and the vines that had taken advantage of his kindness. The thunder that penetrated the ground, causing creatures to seek refuge in his open trunk. His fallen leaves that he had shed over the stress of winters’ past. He lets the light creep over him, new buds emerging through the growth of his outstretched limbs.

He takes a moment to look around him and though he recognizes his surroundings, he no longer feels that familiar pressure. That hard, cold rain that had once pelted his bark had also fed his core, flushing his limbs with nutrients as his roots processed its’ unrelenting forces. Those vines that had wrapped around him so tightly he’d barely managed to breathe, now loosened their grip as he deeply exhaled the oxygen from the depths of his core- releasing what no longer served him. The thunder that penetrated the ground, causing many to explore the once empty crevices of his trunk, now cradled a family of birds who sang him to sleep through the storms. The gravel beneath his roots that had once caused panic as he searched for footing under its’ unexpected shifting, now mixed with the new soil beneath him, massaging his roots beneath the field.

He looked around him, basking in the light he had neglected to acknowledge over the seasons. He looked back over the field and noted how far he had come. He realized nothing had really changed at all. That the rain still came and the ground still shifted while unexpected thunder rolled through. That the vines still pulled hard to try and smother the light and the creatures still sought refuge. But something had changed.

He had grown. He had branched out.

Now looking back on his weathered trunk he could see everything so clearly. His old leaves for which he once mourned each season, had nourished his core; dissolving underneath his limbs and helping to build the soil beneath him. How had he not seen this all these seasons? What else was he oblivious to? So wrapped up in the pressures around him, had he forgotten what he was? What he could be?

His limbs outstretched over the field and the sun’s rays reflected new buds in the puddle below his branches. He looked down, recognizing the growth, confused by what he saw. The bud began to open as the sun’s fading rays kissed it’s rosy petals and a flower emerged. A single, most beautiful flower- he couldn’t believe it. How was it that all these seasons he’d never known he could flower?

I imagine this tree standing firmly planted, widely stretched out over the field. A beautiful dogwood tree. Having reached his full potential, offering his beauty to those who choose to see it, but no longer over-extending his branches. Standing tall in a field of new perspective- dark, blushing flowers filling out his branches.

 

-Crystal Meyers, LAc.