Last year about this time I started noticing the magnificent outfits that the ladies of Nashville were sporting. The emphasis was less on the outfits and more on the ladies themselves I suppose. I wrote a blog about it and my brother said I sounded horny. Well I’m not saying he was right but 2 months ago my first child was born. Her name is August. Probably more than anything else in my life right now she has brought the idea of life and all its mysteries to the fore in my head again.
There’s a porch adjoining the back door of my apartment in Nashville. It’s a small porch but I like it. I go there to drink coffee and survey the neighborhood and smoke cigarettes and think. There is a nearby tree whose branches hang down just beyond the edge of the porch. Throughout the year these branches go from being bare and brown to having thousands of small green buds then suddenly leafy and green and then finally through a death scene during which the leaves turn yellow and then red and then brown and then end up scattered all over the ground.
I grew up in a town with a very constant climate. It’s pretty much always warm in Durban. So I imagined that in places experiencing the full range of seasons it must be a gradual undulation from one season to the next. But it seems that seasons in Nashville arrive suddenly as if they were relatives from out of town. There’s no mistaking their arrival…. You get a cell phone message saying they are on the way and should be there around supper time, but things seem pretty much the same until the moment they arrive and then everything changes suddenly.
I didn’t notice the leaves beginning to grow on my porch-tree this year. I just looked up one day and realized that the branches didn’t look dead anymore and were covered in green leaves. As if they sprouted overnight…There must have been a lot of activity going on under the surface.
In a strange way, that tree porch and my daughter give me a kind of hopefulness about life. Not that I have any reason to not be hopeful but for some reason I have an extra helping of hopefulness lately. When my daughter arrived she was this little, squirmy, beautiful person. Every time I see her now she’s grown just a little. She’s changing daily. As adults we reach a point where we think we are in kind of stasis where we are about the same as we were the day before but it’s not true. We never really stop changing and growing. That tree and my daughter have reminded me that change is inevitable and constant. I can’t control everything about the way I change. Eventually we all end up old and dead. But I can direct myself towards positive changes.
Hopefully if I keep toiling and building and moving and direct things in a positive direction I’ll look around one day and realize that, just like August and the relatives from out of town I have suddenly arrived at some place I’ve been traveling towards. And like that tree, I’ve bloomed into something perhaps a little better than I am right now.
NOTE: The above painting is titled: "Tree of Life" and was painted by Tim Parish in 2008
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