This I Believe

Mai - Warren, Michigan
Entered on September 20, 2006

When I was a little girl, in elementary school, we each received a small tree to take home that was to be planted in celebration of Earth. I was a happy little girl back then, maybe because I was really naïve, or because I was so excited to give a life and a home to this baby in my hands. My sister eagerly helped me plant it in our huge back yard. There it would sit, outside the fence of my mother’s vegetable garden; slowly growing into a bigger existence.

One day long after my celebration with my tree had expired, I treaded through the grass field into the backyard, only to see that there was a new but flat skyline in my view. Standing lifeless with horrific twigs that only limped, and dried leaves that scattered around the emaciated trunk, was the tree that I once cared for, once full of life and filled with a chance to grow and eventually to give back to me.

I felt a big part of me died that day when I discovered the consequences of my carelessness; it had been so long since I last nurtured it. My lack of compassion for this tree had killed it. And it started to affect me and everything around us.

One tree to one little girl doesn’t amount to more than one, but a lot of trees that were passed out that day, probably died as well, though some were lucky enough to grow into beautiful branches only to be cut down for careless use.

Now that I am older, I am no longer naïve but insensible due to the many things in my demandingly busy life. That tree I planted was my way of contributing back to the world. Now, no one is handing me a tree and I along with millions of other people, am vigorously using up my resources. I find myself doing more design than communicating these days, while I am pursuing a degree in Communication Design. People don’t look at a sheet of paper and see a tree dying, and then they are finish with their business proposal and off it goes into the shredder or disgusted with their many unpaid bills; tossed into the dumpster; floating somewhere on the streets of Detroit.

I print a thousand sheets of paper filled with spur of the moment thumbnail sketches that are quickly tucked away into process books. I will never have time to open them again until maybe one day when I retire, and then I will perhaps be too old to have interest in it and all will go to waste. The tree is already dead.

The tree is already dead but someone has to keep giving those trees away and some little girl in Ohio will keep planting it. I believe in the gift of recycling and I embrace in all things paperless: plastic money, metal shields that cover my personal computer, news that comes to me directly from the web, letters in my inbox, and throw the unwanted and dead sheets of paper into the plastic recycling bin to be used again.

I believe in recycling, because one day trees will no longer die and people can continue to use the resources they already have over and over again.

Maybe trees will start to grow on their own, in abandoned landfills.