How amazing it is to visualise Life as a big oak tree; with its huge branches spreading all around, encompassing and inviting one and all, to take shelter and enjoy the shade! The Tree Of Life ….
I was sitting on a bench under a big oak tree in the park. It was a huge tree that had six benches arranged under it. I have always found all the benches occupied, especially during the morning and evening hours. It was one of my favourite pastimes to sit quietly, and watch others around me.
That day was my 75th birthday. Sitting there, going down the memory lane, felt like a pleasant walk back in time for me! It was like watching a movie, replete with all the emotions of life. Fun, Excitement, Romance, Failure, Success, Love, Disappointment, all of these were there! What I realised, like what I had realised earlier as well, many a time, was how visuals of the past become soft and gentle, with time. They lose their sting, their teeth, their fangs! No wonder then, that people love visiting and revisiting their past.
My love for life had always kept me active and busy. And my love for people had kept me connected with a large number of them, comprising family, close and distant relatives, and friends. Sitting there, under that huge and old Oak tree, somehow brought to my mind the analogy of The Tree Of Life.
Isn’t our life, just like a tree? We grow from a seed to a plant and then to a tree. We have branches, our relationships! I looked up and marvelled at the constant chirping of the birds! It seemed like there were countless number of birds there! The tree had innumerable inhabitants; a variety of birds and insects, and even some monkeys, lived there. Children climbing from the other side of the tree, caught my eye. Some of them were even hanging from the branches. The tree stood tall!
The tree stood there, unshaken and unfazed by the treatment meted out to it. The evening was setting in. A cool breeze started to blow. The branches started swaying. I felt enchanted!
My cell phone rang in my pocket. It was a call from my wife.
“Won’t you come home early today? Everyone will start dropping in, shortly! The birthday boy needs to be here to greet them, shouldn’t he?”
“Yes, sweetheart! As always, you are right! See you in no time.” I smiled, as I got up to leave. We were expecting around twenty people to come over, in the evening.
My wife and myself, with the assistance of our helper, had arranged for a great spread for dinner. Both of us loved entertaining, and we indeed were blessed with so many loved ones.
While walking back home, involuntarily, the movie of my life started playing again. So many troughs and crests in the sea of life; I could see myself in various situations, I could see the many highs and lows in my life, but something was common to all those visuals! The faces of our loved ones!
A warm glow filled my very being. I saw a balloon seller at the corner of the road. I ordered seventy-five balloons; balloons of all the colours that he had, and asked him to deliver these to our address.
I was pretty happy with my tree of life, where I could see myself as the strong oak tree, with its huge, swaying branches, spread all around.
Before I could ring the bell at home, the door opened. There stood my smiling wife; my best friend and companion for the past fifty years! Hand in hand, we walked in together.
I had a great birthday celebration. The evening flew past, chatting, singing and reminiscing about the many beautiful memories that we all had shared together.
All of us realised that, whatever the magnitude of the challenge, in hindsight, it looks like a tiny bump on the long road we have traversed in life. The only reason for this amazing truth is the resilience and fortitude we had shown at those difficult times, and also the strong support from our near and dear ones, that helped us regain our footing and balance, leading us to march along in life.
It is like the Sequoia trees, also known as redwoods, that are the most massive trees on Earth. The oldest known giant sequoia is more than 3,000 years old!
They have survived for so long and have grown as well, only because of their fascinating habit of holding on to each other, by entwining their roots, under the soil.
Ah Nature! Thou are the best teacher!
No wonder John Muir had said;
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
Jinny, with a tug at her heart and a smile on her face, looked up from the diary that she was reading. It was her father’s diary and her mother had given it to her, when her father had passed away.
“Jinny, your father wanted you to keep this.” She had said.
Jinny and her father had always shared a beautiful bond of love. She had known her father to be passionate about life and had always seen him live it to the fullest. Like everyone else, he too had had his share of troughs, some very low ones too, in life. But she had always seen him re-surface, and ride on the crests again. She remembered the day when the family was completely shattered, with the news of her only sibling Jim, dying in a terrible road accident. That too, at the tender age of twenty five! She herself was just about thirty then.
Then the day when her mother was diagnosed with cancer! Jinny still felt the chill going down her spine, remembering her father breaking this news to her, over the phone.
There were so many adversities, but never had Jinny seen her father give up! He would always hold on, and also urge everyone in the family to keep going! No wonder he spoke of the Tree of life!
Jinny sat there for a long time, with the diary folded on her lap. She was thinking of the times when she felt exhausted and defeated, with life throwing unexpected challenges at her. Why me? And for how long? would be the questions screaming in her mind!
Slowly she started feeling better. She felt as if her father was talking to her, telling her about the sprawling, robust tree that he had made his life to be. She was filled with a surge of warmth and hope. She was a part of that big tree, wasn’t she?
Yes, she would now help the tree grow even bigger and stronger!
Her tree of life!