The Root of the Problem

Sitting here unready for the day and the weekend to end tormented by a notion. An idea. Something to feel passionate about. Something to awaken my slumbering amusement:

How dare Aspen condescend and request Willow’s eyes to lift up… to open its arms to the heavens.

One, born to reach; the other, to wear its own gravity. How cocky and self-righteous, Aspen, with all those brilliant colors and shimmering leaves. How fitting, the ashen bark and cozy cliques. “Have you, Aspen, ever stopped to ask Willow, ‘Why the weeping?'”

This weekend we watched Invictus, a story about Nelson Mandela and his insight into the hearts and minds of his nation. One phrase keeps going over and over in my mind, “You criticize without understanding.”

I didn’t realize until I actually wrote it out just how opposing those two statements are… Mandela’s astute observation and my judgment of Aspen. I wasn’t prepared for this. I just wanted to write out a succinct, powerful, emotional statement, a one-liner that held me captive today and be done with it. But as soon as I wrote it I recognized the seedling of fallacy. That statement, that ignorant, gross miscalculation was all I had in my head when I sat down to write, realizing now that my most conscious thoughts from today have culminated into an overly judgmental statement based only on my perceptions and blindness that typically adorns the notion that deep down underneath everything, life has to be fair–as if I deserve whatever it is that someone owes me. I was wholeheartedly ready to run to Willow’s defense from Aspen’s persecution. I had adequately projected my own frustrations onto Aspen, convincing myself that I have the right to defend Willow. And my defense was going to be awesome. Ready? Here it is:

How can one tell another what to do, or what the other should be doing when both are so different and the only thing they have in common is the dirt they grow in?

Yeah. I know. Awesome! Right? Not so much. I couldn’t leave it. I just couldn’t ignore the problem I just created. Trying to get to the root of this, and being curious, and with never enough time, I took to the internets* to see if my anger at Aspen was righteous or self-righteous. I read up a little on Willow and learned a few things. Things like how Willow has medicinal properties for relieving aches and fevers. Its bark contains a growth hormone, and its roots are remarkable for their toughness, size, and tenacity to life. Yeah… tenacity… Willow has this unwillingness to let go. A tirelessness. This only became fuel for my fire against Aspen. Charging Aspen with having no compassion. Then I started learning a little something about Aspen. Turns out Aspen knows about treating aches and pains too. And I learned that Aspen is much older that it looks. Buried under its glamor and shimmer–under its youthful fluttering and quaking–can be millenniums of down-to-earth wisdom and a similar sense of perseverance. On one hand, there’s Aspen, jubilant and carefree. Hope based on knowing, almost to the point of undermining the very essence of hope. And on the other hand: Willow, solemn and aware. Beyond empathy.

So… how dare Aspen not reach out for the hope of the heavens with all that it knows. And Willow… overly aware and burdened. You can’t stop weeping for those who’ve run out of tears. There’s nothing fair about this, but being fair is not what it’s about.

* tree information gleaned from Wikipedia here and here.

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