“When it comes time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.”
A tree bends and twists and finds its way around boulders and barbed wire, knotting its trauma, leaving bulbous scars, to continue its growth. I sat in the woods one day under a sugar maple. It had been tapped for sugaring season, years prior. The tap hole was still apparent, but callus tissue had already begun to heal the wound. A stain above and below the tap hole indicates dead cells, but maples are known to “compartmentalize” damaged areas, walling off non-functional vessels. It grows around trauma deadened by scars to continue its life.
When I am in the woods, I choose a tree that stands taller than the rest. I imagine its life. I imagine it has seen fierce winds and bitter cold, floods and fire, possibly over hundreds of years. Still it grows. Still it stands tall.
But when the end finally comes, it dies having seen all it could have seen to become more than a tree–a refuge for birds and squirrels and all that continue to live and who need to survive.