The Perfectly Broken Almost-Tree

Hannah - Santa Barbara, California
Entered on January 27, 2009
Age Group: Under 18

On my soul walk, a cyclical walk that starts at the beach and rolls up the cliffs and down to the shore, I found my soul tree. Whether or not you believe that human beings are filled with an essence separate from the body and mind, you would have to agree with me that this remnant of a tree is something special. It is no longer a tree really. It once was but has aged into something that has never existed before and never will exist again. This remnant-tree is perfectly broken. It has a few patches of bark still clinging to its wind-sculpted body. These patches do not seem random. They are just right. This remnant-tree is so right that my breathing quickens and my eyes moisten. There are not many things in this world that break perfectly or stand quietly in the very place they were always meant to be.

Even more, this tree knows. It is not aware of me the way a person is but seems infused with what feels like the deepest and simplest goodness (which is a kind of truth) of the universe. Just by existing, it illuminates what I tend to forget in between lists and cubicles of time. That being whole is not the ideal. That being whole is impossible in a life lived. First of all, this perfectly broken tree wordlessly tells us, you cannot be whole because you make up the whole and a piece is never whole. Secondly, with his sun-bleached arms in sky salutation, the point of life is not to be whole. We are born whole and anonymous. The events of our lives carve out the pieces from the piece, making the piece different and real. We are not born real. To become real, we must feel as much as we can feel. We must let the pieces we lose fall away. We must celebrate what is still left, a branch and a good patch of bark. Then, the wise almost-tree suggests, you will be something so utterly different and beautiful from the perfect mold you were born into. Look at me, says the once-tree. I am no longer a tree but something else that never was or will be again.