I hear the wind brushing ten million leaves; the sun cascading upon thousands with her glimmering light. The greens, in this morning hour, still stretch ‘cross the canvas from the whitest of greens to the deepest of blacks.
I never thought I would hear myself say that the trees are my teacher.
I hear that youthful version of myself so far gone, now scoffing from a dozen or more years away.
He says, chest puffed, that he can’t believe that I’ve given up; that this aged version of me must have quit, failed, gotten weak and acquiesced to the la-la thinkers and pleasant talkers.
He doesn’t even realize that this is what life is supposed to do to us: to break us down, force us to question everything, challenge us, compel us to quit, to fail, to fall weak and will to crumble into a pile of nothing.
What life breaks is not our spirit, or our truth, or our True Selves — it breaks the Ego, it defeats the identity-minds of our false-selves.
That’s the shell that we grow into without seeing; like a hermit crab ensconced in nothing but trapped all the same.
I watch children playing, loving, laughing and just being themselves — I revere it with such humility and wonder. Then, I fret, for I know that as they grow older, there is no stopping their tragic but unseen slip into that same invisible shell.
She will assume an identity, who she wishes to be. Who she thinks she needs to be. Who she thinks everyone else wants her to be.
And I’ll tell her,
“Dear, you already are more that you could imagine. Do not think about it. Do not give it a title, a name, traits that you can list on paper or describe to girlfriends and the schoolyard boys whom you wish to impress.”
She will not understand.
How could she?
I know I never did.
That’s why life makes itself felt and heard.
That’s how the swirling sea of dominoes, of a countless billion never-ending causes and effects, bombards us with chance and circumstance.
One bumps the other, and tragedy strikes. A whoosh sends a wave to splash against the starboard bow, and we fall ill. A little jolt, and a stubbed toe. A flash of lightning, the fear of God, a heartbreak…
…and then the timeless aura of suddenly not knowing anything at all, and a desperate plea to finally understand some part of what we realize we’ve never before fathomed.
It’s no wonder that youth scoff at their elders: for all that we say we know, not that I am old in my age, these children need only to look upon the world that surrounds them and doubt every supposed truth that we espouse.
Of what happiness do we speak when we can’t even stop a frown?
Of what peace do we say we desire in our outbursts of rage, over such trivial and petty bullshit that we create?
How does a man tell a child to dream, when his dreams were slain by his own hand?
Children are not foolish; they are so keenly aware. They are masters of truth and remarkable identifiers of bullshit and hypocrisy because they are uncorrupted by the invisible laws of society, the rules of culture and desire, of socially-imposed order that we assume and yet seldom take time to question.
Of course, children are children.
Unawareness — naivete — is, only to a trivial extent, an advantage.
But somewhere in between that childlike naivete and life’s forceful undoing of our ego in adulthood, there might lay some secret path of truth:
Lessons in swaying trees, echos of a voice long since gone, and remembering that our dreams are as only good as their pursuit.