I live in pure bliss, but I observe and understand pain. I am constantly changing but I am perfectly still. I give to you, and you give to me. We cannot exist without each other. I am aware of everything because I am everything. 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144…
The air is foggy, sharp and cold. The lake is frozen over and billions of tiny white fractals with near perfect symmetry encompass the earth like an iced kingdom. It is white but beneath the surface I see the hue of every colour shining through; fading in, and out, in, and out. The universe is breathing with me in a constant flow of push and pull, the only unchanging thing within the utter transience of being. In the distance behind me, stands an old farmhouse, sealed together with red brick and mortar. It has a blue front door and its roof wears a glistening white coat. Boy emerges from the fog with a man and woman; they stand either side of him, twice his size, holding his hand, counting to three and swinging him into the air as he shrieks with joy. He is wearing dainty yellow wellingtons boots and yellow gloves. He springs off with awe and wonder, stops and bends down, scooping up a tiny ball of snow and moulding it into his hands. He throws it at man and woman, and erupts into a cheeky giggle. Man and woman laugh and begin to hurl snowballs at each other, dancing with each other and the earth like the playground it was always meant to be. He runs up to me, and stares into my soul with delight with his gigantic brown eyes. We look at each other as if looking in the mirror and share a simple understanding that most humankind forget as they regress to adulthood. My bare arms tower above him, except one which he climbs upon and hugs. Man and woman skip towards me, they hold hands and woman kisses man softly upon the cheek. This moment is sealed in time forever.
The water is clear and glistening, the sky is white and dewy grass beneath me covers the land for vast miles. It is a day as still as silence. Boy and man, both in black, walk side by side, closer and closer to me, in a sullen and sombre countenance. Man delicately carries a ceramic pot, protecting it with his entire being. They stand shoulder to shoulder facing the lake. There is a long pause before man exhales and scatters ashes into the landscape. Man cries, boy glances behind him, his eyes glossing over me.
Blossom enthrals me. The earth is re-birthed and new life flutters, crawls and sleeps in every corner. I am glowing with pink, my colours attracting bumblebees and butterflies. A ladybird with three spots flutters up from the grass and lands on a blossom petal. It nestles in the softness. A ball is hurled towards my direction, hits me then rolls away. Boy chases it, he picks it up and bounces it against me three times. He puts the ball down. Boy climbs up onto my branch; he reaches for another, and another, and works his way up my body. He sits, looking out onto the world as if he were God. Little does he remember that we are. Boy turns upside down, clinging onto me making monkey noises and cackling at himself. Boy loses grip and falls. He screams as gravity yanks him back down towards the ground below. He clings onto his arm where a bone protrudes. Shrieking out in pain, his being draining to white and pale, he kicks out with his legs in anger. Man, from the distance, begins to run to his aid. Butterfly lands on boy’s nose. For a fleeting moment, he smiles.
The atmosphere is warm but breezy, and the sun’s rays beam down, feeding and nourishing me. My leaves are deep green, bursting with life force energy. The lake reflects the sun like a golden cascade of light. Crickets are buzzing, and below me a blanket is spread out. Boys and girls paving their way into adulthood are screaming and laughing and teasing each other. Man appears holding cake, with candles poking out of the top. He lights them on fire. Children sing. Boy sits proudly in the middle and blows out the dancing flames in a single puff. They devour it. Man saunters away and stands by the lake, reaching out to the spirit of woman. She flies by, touching his heart and letting his soul, deep down, know her presence. Goosebumps arise on his skin, his fine arm hairs standing to attention. He shakes his head and walks away.
The air is humid and sweltering. The sun burns, and I radiate. Some leaves still green, some maturing into red, orange and golden, crisping at the edges and drifting to the ground. A family of ducks’ swim through the lake in single file. Boy runs towards me with girl. They jump into a mountain of fallen leaves, laugh and sigh. They sit, resting their backs upon me and smile. They gaze into each other’s eyes. They feel nervous and excited, butterflies in their stomach, hypnotised by the idea of love. They kiss. Boy turns around and strokes me, and reaches into his pocket for a small knife. He begins to scratch at me, digging out my rough skin. He carves a little sun, and two initials. It will stay there until my last breath.
Boy is now taller than Man. His face is dotted with stubble and he carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. My surroundings are bitter and breath lingers in the air like smoke. The world hides itself behind layers of mist. Boy walks by with girl, who is now a woman. Boy is holding a tiny baby, asleep, swaddled in layers of warm woollen blanket. As they pass, they pause, and woman looks at me with her tired blue eyes and traces the carved sun with her numb fingertips. They slip by, slowly becoming silhouette’s and disappear into the mist.
Splatters of rain fall onto me in the blustery, bitter wind. Clouds above me are shades of black and grey, aggressively outpouring their burdens. As droplets fall onto the lake, the water ripples outwards. Animals everywhere are taking shelter. Boy, woman and girl quickly rush towards me, trying to find their way home. Woman holds a red umbrella above her head, which keeps folding inside out, desperately trying to blow away. Thunder ominously rumbles and girl tries to wrap her coat tight around her little school uniform. Boy and woman are feeling bitter and angry. They argue and bicker, letting their illusion of reality and suffering spill over them in rage. Chaos encircles the world, but it is a perfect chaos, one that must reside within order. Girl runs off, taking shelter under my many arms. She sobs and cries. Hurt, she smashes her fists against me, just wanting the world to again be throbbing with love. Boy and woman are stood in the rain, carelessly drenched. Girl grows tired and looks deep into me, she breaths out, and I breathe in. She reaches up to touch my bark. I tell her that she will always be loved. She understands. She wraps her tiny arms around me. Boy and woman come to their senses, letting go, and run up to girl, taking her into their arms. Boy lifts girl up onto his shoulders. She spreads her arms out and shrieks with joy. Within the beastly, howling, thunder and rain, she feels fearless.
I am pink once again, and the world is fresh, alive and blooming. The scent of pollen and freshly cut grass lingers all around. Girl skips, approaching me, as boy and woman stroll behind. Next to them, a golden coated puppy springs along, yapping with the excitement of being alive. Clothed in dungarees and a green t-shirt, girl sits down, taking out of her pocket a small rectangle with a glowing screen. As boy and woman join her on the grass, girl’s eyes lock onto her gadget as she taps with her thumbs in a trance-like state. Woman rests her head on boy’s shoulders. The puppy euphorically bounds forward and leaps into the lake, without a care in the world. He swims and splashes about, feeling the cool water refresh his body. As the sun begins to collapse underneath the horizon, a glorious sunset spreads across the lake in hues of orange, yellows and reds, blending together in a cacophony of colour. Girl does not look up.
It is raining, residue of ash and soot melding together with the clouds tears. The river current is temperamental, frantically racing wherever it so chooses. On the other side of the river, the land is littered with waste. The air is harder to breathe and somewhere inside me I can feel the falling of my kind, dotted around the globe. Both helpless to the clutches of man’s need, man’s want, and accepting it as the experience it is. Boy walks past with dog, he is deep in thought, in imagined circumstances and worries, with thoughts of illness and fear of mortality, projecting himself forwards and backwards in time. His brow is furrowed and he is not aware of his surroundings. Dog is wide eyed and panting, joyfully connecting to the grass, the lake, myself; completely immersed in the moment. Dog jumps up on boy, with his mirrored brown eyes, trying to remind him of love, and who he truly is. Boy breaks out into a chuckle. Beneath me a budded flower unfolds its purple petals.
My leaves are saturated and a faint wind is whistling and humming. Girl and woman, both in the breadths of old age, take a stroll with dog. In front of me, made from my own kin, is a wooden bench with a small golden placard melded into its frame: ‘In loving memory’, it says. They sit on the bench. Dog rolls over into my shade, panting and quietly missing boy with all his love. Woman glances over my etchings, that indelible, faint, eroded image. She finds she cannot cry, she struggles to express or understand her own feelings. Mankind seldom do, even though they are a lot simpler than they seem to think, they need only listen. Boy’s soul emerges, and perches peacefully under my shadow; dog’s ears perk up and he begins to wag his tail. Dog barks. Girl feels a deep presence, she does not know why, but she feels calm. Girl puts her arm around woman, as they sigh and watch life ever passing and moving on.
Everything changes form and the cycle of life completes itself, encompassing infinity within its perimeters. The remains of this body are now too but a stump. My brothers and sisters incarnated also, slowly suffocating humankind. One by one we diminish as the land we call our own begins to fall apart and become a shadow of itself. The land that once sat by my sturdy feet, held together by my deep winding roots is ripped apart and tormented as herds of men begin to build concrete slabs, brick by brick onto my once foundations. Boy’s bench is taken away, as big industrial buildings slowly piece together, and all the life around me, the insects, the squirrels, the butterflies, the birds and the bees take a long pilgrimage in search of mother earth. Girl, now well over a hundred years, possibly one of the oldest women in the world, with wrinkles winding their way across her face, makes her way towards my ghost. With debris and smoke hitting her from the wind, she squints and bows her head, saying goodbye. Out of the corner of her eye she spots a small seedling, and a smile spreads across her face. With effort, she bends down and scoops it up into her wise old hands. She feels it’s rough edges and texture, and puts it in her pocket. Later, she makes her way to the overgrown garden of her red bricked house, digging a little well into the soil, and encasing me into the dirt. That night, girl falls asleep dreaming of hope, and letting herself sink into the bed, it is also time for her to say goodbye. Her soul waves farewell to its body and rises out of its shell, joining the eternal one. I am girl, I am seed, I am tree, I am man, I am woman, I am boy, I am dog, I am you. I am. We are one dying and birthing again and again until we have experienced everything. Tiny speckles of roots begin to sprout from my seedling, anchoring myself into mother earth from where I am buried, determined to give life and breath. In, and out. In, and out. Push, and pull. Again, I begin to grow.