Stop right where you are and look; what do you see? I am sitting squarely in front of a large picture window and in my view, twenty feet away, sits a sprawling Bradford Pear tree. A tree with no leaves emanating from its barren branches. So, is that all I see, or is there more?
I look more closely, and I see dappled moss on many of the spider-like branches. The trunk must measure at least 14″ in circumference. From my seat, the trunk bark looks like a mix of gray and orange. The rough exterior looks like a puzzle; pieces placed loosely together to make a protective coating. Some deep black hides in the crevices.
The branches grow out of the trunk, starting about five feet from the ground, and they sprawl and twist their way up and out. They look like gangly octopus’ arms or legs. Some branches are short, having either been cut, broken off by the weight of a cruel winter storm, or are new shoots stretching for sunlight. Some branches cross other branches and should be cut.
At the base of the tree, each branch has a certain thickness depending on age. As each one reaches for the sky, it progressively becomes thinner. It sends off new shoots from itself in random spots which in turn send off more shoots. They get thinner and thinner, until, the tiniest, most delicate end is visible where a single spring bud resides at the very tip.
Some branches grow vertically from a base branch, almost in awkward defiance, heading straight up toward the sky as if to say, “I have my own plan; I’m not like the rest who reach for more horizontal acclaim.”
A random squirrel climbs quickly from the ground to a cross-section of thick branches. He sits, and then, gathers his legs beneath his furry gray body and appears to nod off. A random bird perches on an intricate branch nearby; hiding in the massive wooden web while the squirrel sleeps peacefully.
I look more closely at the buds; an army of tiny triangular pods arranged sporadically on the tips of the branches. They sway with their host, as a gentle breeze sweeps in and around them like a soft lullaby.
I see all of that in just a few minutes.
What does it mean to you, that thing that you see directly in front of you? Wherever you are; waiting on a subway platform, tipping one back in a bar, standing on a beach watching the waves roll in, or staring into the abyss that is your empty refrigerator – what do you see right in front of you? If you see nothing, if you gain nothing from what you’re looking at, maybe you’re not really looking, and therefore, not really seeing.
My view of the tree means something to me. It represents space, growth, and time. It is unconventional, unique, and intricate. It shouts out purpose, feeling, and rest. It is life, and, it gives me hope.
That’s what I see right in front of me.