Storms, Trees and Other Relevant Things

” The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww! ”

Jack Kerouac, On the Road


Morning has come and there are leaves strewn about and a few branches on the porch. No giant storm. No damage registered (here) and nothing awful left in its wake. The only ones who really benefit from such forecasting are the grocery stores. Sold out (I hear) of water, batteries and other supplies. I was looking forward to some of my favorite weather. The unsettled kind. The unpredictable variety. The intense, fierce kind of disturbance that often matches my insides. Instability seems to fire me up. I love all those things that make me feel alive.

Yesterday, ahead of the “big storm” our arborist came with his crew to clean up our birch tree. Several years ago an ice storm snapped the two branches that had risen as the tops. It was heartbreaking to see. That was the year we really DID get a storm and we were left in the dark for five days. The wind and frigid temperatures gave that poor birch little chance as the fierce winds came. There was so much moisture ahead of so much freezing cold. The wind snapped those branches like they were twigs. Seeing them in the yard was so sad. It felt like a graveyard.

It took several years for new growth to really take hold. It was almost like the tree was in mourning and took the obligatory time to grieve the loss. This past spring/summer saw an amazing rebirth. The tree leafed up and grew like it was out of control. It was as if nothing could stop it. As the arborist had promised, new branches found their way to the top and new life was in its beautiful sappy blood. The sight of it, to me, was exhilarating. It was my Kerouac tree.

They trimmed it beautifully yesterday. I’m a little sad to see some of the bulk has disappeared but I know it is best for the tree. It has a shape now and has lost a bit of the wildness I loved, but the crazy spirit of that tree remains. It is like a new haircut or a new outfit. The outside can always be made to be presentable. Fine by me, so long as the wildness and the fierceness remain beneath the surface.

I don’t know with any certainty what is happening under my surface. I feel distracted. I feel like I’m in a dream and I find myself in a big dance and I dont know any of the steps. I’m desperate to fake it since I can’t leave the stage.

Sometimes I feel like a snake that is shedding its skin. Slowly. Completely. Desperate to shake it off and reveal the new patterns and colors that lie beneath.

And sometimes I feel like my Kerouac tree.

Today I am also thinking about time. Time as it relates to everything. How long I’ve held my job, had my friends, been in my relationship. How many years I’ve been alive. How many years (or moments or months or decades) I have left. How long I’ve had certain dreams. How long I’ll live suspended in all that doesn’t serve me before I make dramatic change. How long it’s been since I’ve snowshoed or held a baby or felt necessary. How long it’s been since I’ve taken a long drive, built a sandcastle or pressed leaves in a book. How many times I’ve reached out and had others reach back. How long I’ll wait to share the big stuff that rumbles inside and gets so close to the surface I’m afraid it will spill over into everything.

How short it all seems when I really consider this life.

Big thoughts for a Sunday.