As I stand small in my own forest, on the shaky feet of an infirm body, I close my eyes, pretending I am one of them. I hear the rustle of leaves, like a quiet shifting of papers on my desk, a pleasant sound to me. In that, I imagine they’re saying, “She’s okay, mate.”
My body quakes but I still stand. My legs are like jelly. I wish for the power to maintain my balance, while I hear ‘Lean In’ whispered on the breeze. I do. Birds sing a familiar melody and I inhale deeply. I look around with curiosity piqued and think about the power of naming.
For decades, I was so depressed. This was especially true from my preteens and well into my early 30s. I couldn’t focus on anything. Where friends saw a brilliant white, I groaned at a dreary grey. Where they knew excitement over a new friend, I conducted inventory of all the ways I would be hurt.
My eyes soaked in much but if asked what I saw, I had no facility to say. I was afraid to ask what things were, how they worked, or why it was important that I learn about it. I didn’t want to be called stupid or laughed at. Besides, revealing my ignorance would only scream, “She’s isolated. Easy pickings here, folks.”
How I wish I knew exactly what kind of bird it is, which trees surround me, the kind of moss on its trunk. Does it always grow around a tree like that, draping parts of itself in a slow donning of clothes, instead of a seductive disrobing? In the distance, I hear voices and a lawn mower but it hardly phases me.
I admire my towering sister, a paper birch, one tree I do recognize easily. She is one who has known wars, trials, and the cyclical fight for healing. The white flesh of her trunk is soft, which is soothing to me as a new friend.
However, there are gashes to her sides, assaults to her very essence. Through exposure to the elements—something I relate to well–her wounds have aged. They feel ragged to my fingertips as I comb them lightly, forever a tactile person. I fancy myself a first aid attendant of sorts.
With eyes closed again, I pray, “May all living things or people who suffer or grieve, who are ill or healing, find some tiny relief every single day of their lives, as I have been so blessed.”