To be a green leaf on a tree, to be unaware, yet alive. In the spring I would come forth, vibrant, youthful and strong. My spine would be devoid of aching; resilient, beautiful in form and measure. Early season thunderstorms would push me around violently, but I would hold no grudges, nor would I recall the fright of such shocking and intense imagery. Later, I would sway in the soft breezes of lingering summer days, I would feel the heat, and thirst for a drink at times, but would have no inkling of what was to come. To be born young, live an enviable life, only to fall to an unknown place at the end of the year. My colors would have become beautiful beyond explanation in my twilight; reds, yellows and umber. There would be no ceremony, no sadness, no remorse, no lost memories or tasks unfulfilled, nor dreams fallen short and unaccomplished. To live without the effects of a human life; would, I think be a gorgeous dream. And in the end, to go back to the earth from which I’d come, lacking the scars certain to be accumulated from this thing we call life.
I think we, as a civilization, lost sight of something when we removed our bare-feet from the earth, and ceased to live hand-to-mouth. We lost the immediacy and intimacy of the hunt, the gratification of the enrichment of soil, the true purpose of angling, the essence of life. And from these losses, we have forgotten the smiles of our loved ones, which would have given us renewed energy on a daily basis, as we provided for them vital, clean sustenance in their youth, taught them ourselves, the patterns of the earth around us, the cycles of the seasons, and when this or that was best accomplished as they grew into young adults. This is valuable, this is meaningful, this is how we amassed knowledge, interacted with one another, and passed our days. We used to be born with, live with, and die with our families and our communities; just like the leaves from the trees that tower above us still. In those earlier times, as we wandered along, so unaware of our utter importance and self-awareness, we may have lived shorter lives, but I would offer we were much richer, and without a doubt, more alive. We made what surrounded us stronger by our individual and combined presence, and that was innate. It came forth without teaching or indoctrination. It hasn’t been so long, but we have forgotten. If one of our own was sick, we cared for them, if they were unproductive, we cared for them, if they were angry, sad or lonely, we cared for them, if they were lost, we found them.
Of course there is debate as to when we first walked this planet; a few thousand years ago? An immeasurable quantity? Or perhaps somewhere in between. But, just a short time ago, when the only weapons we needed were crafted with our hands, from wood and earth and that which we harvested from her, our communities, or villages were certainly devoid of the technology and convenience we see today. But we lived much purer lives. In every conceivable way we lived more honestly with our environment. Our food, our daily rituals, the way we medicated ourselves were all done in much different ways. Our water was pure for centuries, at least, our skyline uninhibited by pollution, our ground untainted by poison. But our technology causes us to forget, and our convenience is killing us. Lost without calculators to tally simple numbers, and do any of us remember how many phone numbers we used to be able to recall? I would be surprised if a tenth of those that may read these words even remember their closest family members numbers anymore. Now, we live apart from those which are the closest to us in the universe, and for the majority of our lives. We rush across the planet in myriads of different directions, to find our fortunes, to stand on our own, to forge our own path. We leave those we are connected to by blood and past lives as a right of passage under constant societal pressure and judgement; in such a rush to find our life’s calling; we leave it completely unawares. And we do so at the cost of every relationship we’ve ever known. And so we pay for this. We lose ourselves into a race for wealth and things. We are bound by artificial timelines to graduate here, marry and have children here, retire and die here. It’s a lie. And it has bred absolutism, the most heinous of human traits. But it has not only bred absolutism, combined with our technology, our systems of communication and governance; it has bred societal absolutism. This has not been seen or discovered or publicly studied in our times. Not only have we become a polarized society with absolutist views, which lie mostly on one side of the political spectrum, or the other, but we have also, and simultaneously decided in unison, to look away from the assaults the information age has begun upon our foundational belief systems; religion, governance, marriage, etc. And thus we have become a race of people allowing themselves to be removed from any chance at redemption, enlightenment or positive furtherance.
We have become accustomed to violence and death, suicide and addictions as if those we once cared so deeply for are lost, in such short periods, for we no longer seek to find each other when we are gone, because we don’t go home at night anymore. What we become conditioned to, as humans, is horrifying. And we cannot see it for the trees. We don’t see individuals anymore, we see numbers. We don’t think anymore, we regurgitate and judge, and we do so based on a lack of knowledge, not a wealth of it. We read memes online and take the thought as scripture, as long as it fits our narrative, or our fractured view of the world we reside in. Even though an eight year old can create a meme. We watch one media outlet, as long as it tells us what we want to hear, and we lose the rest because it’s ‘negative’, or depressing, and we don’t want to hear the bad stuff ‘our side’ is capable of. And so we marginalize ourselves, long before anyone else has a chance to try.
I believe we took a wrong turn in the path of humanity a short time ago, and we see the painful results of this almost on a daily basis now. The only good news I can perceive, even though we seem to think it was so long ago, it was only a season, and if we can remember what family is, what true loyalty is, perhaps we will find our way back to what used to be the most important things in life.
I haven’t written this to debate anything, nor for ‘likes’ or ‘shares’, nor to alarm anyone. I personally have a lot to do yet. I wrote it because I think we all need to hear it. But honestly, if there is ever a next time, hopefully, I’ll be a leaf.