by In All Our Years
I woke, not having had that much time to sleep, but was able to stand and get dressed.
It was a work day, that started in the dark before morning. I met up with seven other co-workers, all in similar states of sleep deprivation, but all were smiling, excited and bushy tailed. We geared up, which means we step into climbing harnesses, grab a pruning saw and some assorted climbing ropes, lanyards and rappelling equipment.
The eight of us then proceeded to walk through the lobby of one of the many posh resorts in Hawaii and move into the luxury of beautiful gardens, pools and running rivers. I saw sleeping Flamingos, three in a row, their little heads tucked into their wings. They looked like pink feather balls on sticks. They did not wake as we walked past them, even with our climbing gear clattering back and forth.
As we walked into the open gardens we each gazed up toward the night, star filled sky and found a Coconut Palm tree to climb. Each tree, a descendant of an ancient species having been on the earth for millions of years. Some classifications of the Palm actually refer to it as a grass, because of its fibrous root system, so all of us were in fact preparing to climb a tall blade of grass.
The Palms were content, looking at the ocean to the North and perhaps dreaming of rain or wind to tickle their leaves. As we all started to climb, they woke and looked down at the strange creatures, climbing them. We had saws. Perhaps they were dreaming, but this was clearly not the case. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, when I arrived at the top, I greeted the Palm and asked how it was this day. It did not speak, but swayed in the soft breeze, perhaps trying to shake me from its trunk. I do not know for sure.
Clearly not really in need of a haircut, but through fate and circumstance it had grown in the crowd of society and the coconuts, sometimes fall to the ground. To prevent injury, they must be taken off before they fall on a guest or two or three even. As I explained this to the Palm, it realized it did not have a choice, so conceded to the haircut.
“I’d like a little taken off here.”, it said.
“Okay.”, I replied.
“These flowers are not doing so well, so take these off too., but please leave these fronds because they make me feel cool and are generating some extra energy these days.”
“Okay, sure.”, I replied.
The Palm then settled back and I started to trim. As I proceeded, it began to talk and chatter and tell me of the things it had seen. There were ships and boats in the harbor that it liked to look at. Small children would run and play in the gardens and enjoy its shade and sometimes gaze up at it and smile. There were also many couples and families running about, in love or loss and spending vacations together. It was all very entertaining to take in and as the Palm spoke, I could feel the joy it had in its solitary planting in the earth below its stem and foliage.
As I was finishing up, I explained that I did not have a mirror big enough for it to see the work. It smiled and said, that was okay. It did not put much stock into how it looked, only in how it felt each and every day. Yes, we both agreed, we are as beautiful as we feel.
It then asked of me.
“How are you today?”
I looked in surprise, not having been asked this before, at least by a Palm tree.
I thought for a moment and then replied.
“I’m tired and a little bit sore. I have things on my mind that sometimes pull me down from the gift of life and all the beauty around us. I think sometimes about the mortality of plants and animals and how each of us only have a short time here, in paradise.”, and then I stopped.
“I see.”, said the Palm, now studying me more closely and then said.
“But you have feet and hands and a brain. You can do anything and go anywhere. I just have roots, an ocean view and a nice haircut.”
“Yes, I do and yes, you do.” I said and then changed my tune.
“Okay, yes I do sometimes feel those things, but through all of them, we do find joy, don’t we?”
“Oh yes we do!”, said the Palm.
And just then, the wind began to pick up a little and we paused in our conversation and together, we looked out over the ocean, swaying in the night sky, a hint of sun to the east and the sounds of other Palms getting their cool haircuts in the night.
We did not speak anymore, and as I descended down the long stalk, I saw a small boy and his mom. They had woken and had stepped out of their room and into the night to see what we were doing. He was now crouched down and looking at the small cluster of young nuts from the tree, now on the ground.
I stepped to earth and walked over to him, bent down and asked if he wanted one. He did. I took out my saw and cut one from the cluster, and then another for his brother. He smiled and was happy with the gifts and left with his mother and family to treasure the children of the Palm.
I stood and drank some water and then gathered my gear to head toward another tree and as I looked back up at the Palm, it looked down at me and said.
“I will never see my children grown up, but I know they do and even though they don’t have feet like you, they will see the world and feel the wind and dream of all that can be, and this my friend is what life is all about, and sometimes you have cool conversations with a friend with a saw.”