Lessons From A Maple Tree

“Brave is daring to bloom, knowing full well that the cold could kill your offering in a moment.

To be brave is to stand in a precarious wind, to shake, give every breath away as freely as the moment will give it.

To be brave is to dig in roots, to say; “No matter what may come.”

To be brave is to stretch out your intrepid arms up to the heavens- to take a hold of its light-letting it flow back through you, to share its warmth.

To be brave is to be a home for all who would seek shelter in your shadow. 

To be brave is to give everything back, as freely as you have received it.

To be brave- is to live.”

Scribbling down my chaotic empty thoughts in a noisy coffee shop, like a bull in a china shop, I am distracted by every detail of the room.  Each telling its story wrestling against my internal cacophony.  I scream at the top of my lungs inside my head just to drown out all the noise.  I want to give into it, it’s easier to retreat and to give up.  To just pick up my phone and settle into the meaningless routine of constant notifications and cheap entertainment.  

It’s a hopeless sinking feeling; this specific kind of despair.  The tragedy of comfortable distraction leaves me numb to any sort of meaningful investment in life.  The mark of the modern world on the soul.  Leaving a scar of numbness and dissolution that can easily be medicated by even more of the sickness.  I’ve been staring down this demon relentlessly for the last several weeks.  I’ve been losing.  I’ve been giving in.  It’s easier to lick your wounds, to let your soul sleep.  But then again, they don’t call them great awakenings, enlightenments, or revivals for nothing… 

I’m typing away editing some terrible dialogue in a scene of a screenplay I wrote.  Astonished at how cartoonish and awful it is.  How did I ever think that this would ever be acceptable?  Present action tense missing, a lot of telling and not showing, not to mention horrific and atrocious spelling and grammar.  I tinker around for a bit, deciding I need to give the antagonist the strongest possible dialogue. I need him to convince me that my character isn’t the hero he presumes himself to be because none of us ever truly are.  I rewrite my protagonist’s dialogue to point to something greater than himself; this could be the only reason why he is the hero.  He doesn’t “win” against his opponent; he sacrifices for him.

He’s making me realize as I craft his world, his fate, his transformation; how we are the stories we tell ourselves. We don’t inhabit our worlds; our worlds inhabit us. We know we aren’t who we need to be so we take risks, we struggle, we hopefully evolve. We know that we are not all that we could be, so we enter into a story. We create allies and enemies born out of our animus and aspirations; to make ourselves into a hero.

We need something to do that matters.  Something to gift us clarity and direction, to integrate us into our fullest potential.  We know this takes no small amount of effort so we keep telling ourselves our stories; every morning when we get up and put our clothes on and walk out the door.  It’s the drama of our existence, the thing that will eventually make sense of all that we have suffered and are going to.

Amidst the chaos, I sense something in between the clatter of trays and cups and causal comments. Something embedded underneath all our self-importance and prescriptive presumptions. Something still and quiet that calls us to abandon our quaint little stories into something bigger, far greater, and all-consuming than we could ever dream up on our own. Do you hear it?

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