An answer to a Plinky Prompt: “How do you spend the majority of your online time?”
This (below) is the right image for my answer. I like trees. Not a tree hugger in the political sense, but I’m always inspired by trees. I respect them, admire them, appreciate their complex beauty that’s all wrapped up in apparent “simplicity.” Particularly the older ones in their endless variations (and I think it’s always been that way for me; even when I was still wet behind the ears, I listened intently to my great-grandmother, my grandmothers, my great-uncles, my parents). What’s that about?
Writing. Whether researching, responding to email, posting or commenting on social media, 90% of my online time is consumed with writing. I am crafting sentences, phrases, snippets, or other combinations of letters, words, paragraphs and punctuation to communicate with my fellow human beings. Some of them, the humans, are like the aged trees. Maybe I am, too. It’s in weathering, and storms. The stories thus born are often more current, more relevant, than the media “news” that’s cranked out ad nauseum day after day.
Trees inspire me — often, to write. I photograph them, too — frequently — the ones that I find special in one way or another, and have accumulated a considerable “tree” collection. With time, I’ve come to note that it’s never, or rarely, the young saplings that attract me. Hope for them, wish them well and trust that they’ll be properly watered and fed, protected and pruned. But they’re not the ones that “grab” me. The older ones always commandeer my undistracted observation, the ones that have been twisted and shaped by assailing winds, captured and then released by storms, wounded or nurtured by passing humans, stunted and spurred by alternating deprivation and abundance.
It’s in their stories. Stories that I get to imagine, if not to hear — to weave a thread at a time, to discern through focused study, observation, palpitation, or listening. Trees are unique in that respect. They “hold still” for you. And if you listen and observe long enough, they’ll tell their stories. They’re compulsive. Subtle but clear — IF you’re listening. It’s in their nature to talk — to “write” — the chronicle of their existence. Their gentleness or toughness, their true nature, may be disguised in the camouflaged exterior of all they’ve seen, endured, dealt out, accepted, and synthesized into their grain, knots, limbs, healed-over pruning cuts, storm-broken limbs, and other scar tissue that gives them their unique character. Character that the worker of fine woods — the craftsman — values most.
Maybe trees are more adept than homo sapiens at communication.
Carpe diem. Vita brevis!
© May 10, 2011, by Michael E. Stubblefield. All rights to my original work reserved. Photo courtesy of Plinky.com.