Life on the Tree





There are books out there, many of them near-perfect, books that portray the quirks of humanity, the psychology of men, women, and children as well as can be. One of the goals every writer aspires to is to write of one’s time, place, and condition in such a way that the stories, the characters, transcend those specifics. In fact, literature tells more truth than any sworn-on-a-Bible witness in a court of law can ever aspire to.

So…given all that literature has accomplished, why write?

If you’re in a hurry, ready to move on to the next blog, let me give you my bottom line: I don’t have a good answer to that.

All I can say is that we writers tap into something…call it the collective unconscious, call it other worlds, universes of possibilities…that allow us to live richer lives than you can ever live otherwise.




Picture the writer as a leaf on a tree: on one hand we’re each one in a crowd. As the wind brings us seasons and years, happiness and despair, we sway and jostle the same way everyone else does. Some of us leaves turn brittle and fall away all too soon, others of us hang on, gritty, persistent. Just like Grandma did. Like the poor old factory worker or farmer with nary a pot to piss in. On the other hand:

We writers are the odd leaves on humanity’s tree. We feel something working within the green surface we call our selves, we feed on the sunlight of life, the photosynthesis that nourishes the tree. Somehow we become aware of the tree’s sap that runs through us; something in us follows the sap into the twig we’re attached to. Others of us burrow deeply into the branch. And the luckiest of us fall down the tree’s version of Alice’s rabbit hole to the root, and into the soil the tree was born to.

You want to go there? Really? It’s the scariest portion of life I can imagine. It’s primal. It’s ugly. But it’s there. I touch into it once in a while, and over the years I’ve grown inured to it; I’m no longer afraid of it. Still, I don’t know often what to do with it. But it’s the basis of everything good and bad in life. I can’t speak for other writers, but it’s part of the individual journey though the human experience dare we go there.

But back to that tree.

Lest we writers’ egos grow too robust, we have to realize that even if we’re able to burrow for a fleeting moment into the tree’s roots, bring up tales of primacy and longing, wisdom wrung from hard life and high aspirations, each of us is in the end, simply a leaf on that tree. Still, the tree needs us. Each of us. And together, though our efforts may end in frustration and dead-end alleys, we – together – make the tree.


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