I Thought I Was a Tree

Hubby called me “fire” the other day, and I was confused because all this time I thought I was a tree.

Years ago, my kidlet introduced us to a podcast called “Welcome to Nightvale“..  It was weird and wonderful and we listened to a LOT of it on a road trip through the Olympic Peninsula.  If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it (either the podcast OR the Peninsula – take your pick), especially if you like trees.

One thing from the podcast stuck in my head, and I can’t remember who said it or the context, except that it was a spooky, crazy kind of woo-woo voice saying “Treeeees… They.  Are. US…” I felt like a spooky ghost was speaking my truth!

I love nature in most of its forms, but trees.  *sigh*  Trees make me feel connected in a way nothing else does.  When I am surrounded by trees I am PART of nature.  Up until recently I thought that meant I was a tree.  My affinity for them meant, to me, that I was responding to something in them that mirrored something in me.

Nope…Not A Tree

Recently, however, I’ve been thinking it might be the opposite.  I think perhaps my affinity for trees is that they are like a missing piece to the puzzle that is “me”.

I am a crackpot, a wacko (no, not Yacko or Dot…just Wacko) – a flibbertigibbet.  My brain goes WAY too fast and I think a million thoughts a minute without understanding most of them and I literally cannot sit still.  I am excessive, and excessively impatient – everything takes waaaay too long.  EVERYTHING.  Trees, though, they’re so STILL.

Trees make me feel like I can breathe (and not JUST because they give me oxygen).  They stand still and tall and quiet, stable at their core.  If the air is moving, trees simply flutter their leaves in greeting as it passes by.

Sometimes they are affected by the storm…but most of the time, trees just dance and bend a bit in the wind and rain.  They wave their branches in time with the music, at ease in the midst of the chaos because their roots keep them grounded.  That’s not me, though.

I am the chaos.  Maybe trees make me feel so connected and peaceful because they lend me their roots, their calm and their patience.  They let me tap into and find rapport with their slower, more grounded version of living, gifting me with something I am unable to give myself.

Something About Fire

I grew up in a very rural, mountainous area of Colorado, and the volunteer fire department was all we had – so I joined as soon as I was old enough (14 or 15 years old, I think).  My favorite part was riding on the back of the fire truck, and my least favorite part was that This made me even more unpopular in high school, as you might imagine.  High school boys … NOT so hot for girls who fought fires.

I kept my gear in my bedroom, and when there was a fire call in the middle of the night, the fire captain and drivers would get the truck from the fire station.  I would bolt out of bed at the sound of the alarm, and run down my hill, breathlessly waiting at the bottom.  The fire truck would come barreling around the curve and stop just long enough for me to hop on the back and strap in.

I carried water on my back up the hills to put out forest fires.  I saved  people from burning cars and helped control the chaos when a house burned down.  I could comfort and heal victims one night, and then crawl across a ladder suspended between two buildings with all my gear just for FUN (well, and training – but it WAS fun) the next day.

How Can He Think I Am FIRE?

So the other day, hubby and I were talking about the elements in nature with which we identified the most, and hubby told me he thought I was “fire”.  I was surprised.  I felt like I knew fire, and I just didn’t see myself that way.

Fire rages with a fierce and destructive beauty that affects everything in its path.   It needs to be handled with extra care and awareness, or it will burn you.  When it gets out of control it can leave destruction wherever it goes.  It is chaotic and unpredictable and ever changing and can alter its course SO fast and … … … OH! … heh heh … I get it.  I see it now.  Achem.

Well…fire can also be gentle and warm and supportive, right?

Except fire EATS trees!!!!!!  NOOOOooooooo!

Did I Just Kill My Own Metaphor?

Fire eats trees and “Trees.  Are.  UUsssss…”, and I love trees but I am fire so does that mean I eat trees and … … … wait … … breathe… ahhhh … OK.  I can bring this metaphor back around to a better place, I think.

The Silence in the Aftermath

Immediately after a fire, looking out over the acres of blackened earth, it can seem like there is nothing but death.  Tendrils of smoke still float up from the surface, and there is a strange kind of silence.  During those first few hours following a forest fire, nothing but ash stirs.

I remember working in the aftermath of a massive fire up in the hills near where I grew up.  Worn out after working multiple shifts over several days and into the final night, we were finally at the end.  Now came the exhausted trek through the devastation that was left, searching to make certain there were no more burning embers.

So much quiet, after such rage.  Footsteps muffled,  muted by the thick layer of ash; not even the rustle from a nearby critter to mar the silence.  Dawn breaks, casting an eerie grey light, the fire having burned all color away.  The only sound is the faint echo of another exhausted firefighter, walking the same tired walk.

However, with a forest fire, there is never complete destruction.  It may appear that way – but underneath the ash and soil, the forest lives.  In the fire’s wake lies the possibility of new beginnings in the rich soil beneath the blanket of ash.

In a way, the trees and forest never die.  Their essence remains, and slowly and calmly the forest starts over, even after the fire wreaked its havoc on the surface.

Learning from the Fire and the Trees

Come to think of it, when emotions are spent and my brain finally quits raging, it can feel a bit like the aftermath of a fire.  For those moments, I feel at peace, and enjoy an internal silence I don’t often experience.  Does that mean that somewhere beneath the surface there lies the possibility of new beginnings…nutrients left to heal the damage I’ve done to myself and help me start over?

If I can learn from the patience of the forest and the cycle of fire and rebirth, then new beginnings are always there, right?  I can be fire, and still find calm and peace within myself when I need it.  If nothing else, all I have to do is go stand with the trees for a while.

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