irl fell in love with a tree. She loved trees, of course; but none more than one. It didn’t give her shade, for it was surrounded by skyscrapers. It didn’t give her a hiding place she could climb to, for its lower branches had been cut off for better view: The Pine tree and she.
I am the girl. My dreams were confused by reality and convention, so I struggled to differentiate them from one another. Unable to grow or expand any further, I went down. I dug a hole. I fell so desperately into the gravity of my emptiness that I was pulled into and out of the other side of the world.
I finally struck air as the seasons were changing. Red and Yellow feathers floated to the ground and landed as leaves. I breathed the brisk air in slowly and with care. Rusty tears fell through my teeth as the salt hit my tongue, face to the sky. And as stories like mine go, I was hit in the forehead with a pinecone and stunned into thoughtfulness.
Korea is the tree I love.
Disoriented and in disarray, my tired body reminded itself to stand. The tree and I stood side by side, comfortable and foreign, polar opposites and twins: For- around the base of her trunk, above her precious roots, man laid concrete changing her from tree to obstruction. Standing tall, above it all, she felled a cone that pegged my confidence and renamed it confusion.
Darkness fell with leaves and cones.
I was lost. I screamed my name in scattered blood and wrote for help in tears. Then I watched the fluid evaporate and prayed the echo of my voice would never truly fade away.
I threw my unchanged dollars into the sky and crossed my fingers behind my back as fast as I could shut my fearful eyes. I opened them with hope that a river of familiarity would have formed by then, ready to carry me to the ocean. As my eyes reluctantly opened, my hands released to submission and I heard the sound of the paper in the wind change to seagulls and waves and knew my hope had come alive. I closed my eyes again and stumbled blindly to better follow the sound of the wings. I made my way home, for any ocean is still “The Sea.”
With each step, my toes tried to root themselves into the soft sand to slow me down and give me stability. Still, I fought them with all my strength till I reached the tide. As the cold wake covered my feet, I looked down and watched my toes change from tree root to bone and flesh.
As loudly as my grief-stricken soul would allow my voice to release, I said, “I may be a riptide!”
“I may be a child!”
“I may be a-tumbling.”
And with the call of newfound strength, I sang out to the middle of the sea, “BUT I AM SURELY ALIVE!”
Myself: I found myself in trusting the strength of goodness. The righteous one is not always a martyr or a saint. It is humane to be righteous. It is in all human beings to be good.
I bowed my body to wisdom and its precedence and accepted myself in all my ignorance and singularity: my one-dimensional illusion of greatness. I was not even half of a whole until I met the tree who pegged me truly. Until gravity pulled me to the other side, the opposite side of the earth.
Eyes swollen from crying and body shaking from shame and fear and loss, I saw myself for the first time. And I was beautiful. I didn’t look into a mirror. I saw myself in the reflection of the world around me: my true mirror. I am new at this. And I accept the honor of being capable of starting again at 33 years-old. I know hardly anything, when before I was hard-pressed to think of something I didn’t know. There is a constant.
I know my heart. My heart remains. I know my heart and now I know my will.
No personal journey can begin without locating one’s deepest fear (hiding in the hardest-to-reach crevices within), yanking it by the root and exposing it by light, removing it’s mask, and recognizing its face as one’s own.
The Monthly Lead is a collection of Stories, Articles, Polls, & Interviews from ourSundown United Senior Staff. The Lead, from across America to Korea, spotlights community in all its different shapes and beautiful varieties in a monthly theme that is discussed, debated, and decided amongst our fans and SDU staff.