Planting Dignity

12 July 2022 (eve before full moon)

Yesterday I stood next to a yam plant that was taller than me. I couldn’t resist having a picture taken with it. I wanted to hug the leaves or put my face against the cool green, but they looked very expensive. 😄

Yam plant being next to me at the nursery. (July 2020)

My first Tree friend was the Acacia Tree in the carpark of my primary school.

Years later I told a bunch of secondary one boys that I regretted not saying goodbye to the tree after my PSLE. Over the weekend, one of the boys would climb over the neighbour’s fence to pick a handful of the crescent shaped leaves that the Acacia is well known for and bring them to school for me. ❤️

Trees are teachers of silence & acceptance. Nowhere is this lesson more hauntingly demonstrated than during forest fires, storms, landslides and wars. Whether standing stoically in flames and molten lava, or facing screaming hurricanes with silent defiance, trees accept their fates.

Yet, as immovable as they are, and as vulnerable as they look, many trees have also outlived bombings & disasters.

Coming to 120 years old, this Banyan Tree has witnessed military affairs, human histories and bombings. (Kinmen Island Sept 2019)

The banyan tree in my grandmother’s city of birth is coming to 120 years old. It has witnessed thousands of soldiers passing through and experienced explosions brought about by ideological differences.

Banyan Tree from my grandmother’s birthplace as seen from the window of a tea house that has been relocated.

Once I thanked the trees growing on a 700 year old ruins in Morocco for providing shade for the cats and their elderly feeder. A wind rose after that, sending the canopy in waves of circular motion. The movements then stopped abruptly, as if I had imagined the whole encounter.

As a kid with physical mobility problems, I was always anxious of not being fast enough and being left behind. Fire drills depressed me as I was always one of the last to make it to the reporting venue. As an adult, the “Run, Hide, Tell,” response offers me little assurance in the event of a terrorist encounter.

But trees show me that accepting the inescapable enables me to plant my feet firmly on the ground, and cultivate a dignified response that can only grow from the soil of no choice.

Freedom is to lean my face against a tree and have no fear of contracting ANYTHING. (Japan 2006/7)

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