Note: If you have not read "The Tree of Life," this blog will not make any sense. I recommend that you scroll down, read the said blog, then read part II. Thank you.
The pig had eaten the young tree, leaving nothing but the bare stalk behind. No life to speak of, no dreams to dream of. Not wanting to be left behind, the winter did all in its power to steal the remanents thereof. The old man sat in the window next summer, looking at the grave of where that plant once thrived. Not sad, no, because he had seen life closely; but perhaps a little sorry. A year had passed since the death of the tree, then one day, while sipping on warm tea at the time when shadows grow shorter and life emerges from the earth, he noticed that the plant that had once died, was sprouting. In full glory and awe he realized a life lesson that he knew so well, life finds a way.
The Inuit spent every winter passing down the oral history and legends of elders to the next generation. When hunting was at a lull, the storytellers spent time with the children, guiding them and reminding them that they are the torchbearers of tomorrow. I was not born in those times or those lands, but I have spent many days learning from their wisdom; be it over Iqaluk or reading a great book. One of the lessons I learned is to spend quality time with children. As summer frees up the time for our children from regular school learning, it presents an ideal opportunity for me to try and set the right growth conditions for them.
As a child, I feared nothing more than the Parent-Teacher meetings, perhaps because I was never an ideal student. Twice a year, when the time for report cards came around, I found myself talking less, praying more and volunteering to carry out chores that usually would require bribes no less than a new video game. Fast forward a few decades and couple of kids later, and I’m happy to report that my perception of these meetings has become more positive. I attribute this change to the shift in strategy; from the Mortal Kombat style reviews to more politically correct “I’m going to tell you how bad things are in a really nice way.” The confusion, however, at Parent-Teacher meetings is still, well, confusing!
My youngest son decided to impress me with a video demonstrating the ‘toy’ he wanted. It was a news item about hovering shoes with a link to a website that sold the product. Needless to say, I was impressed. Shoes that hover two feet off the ground, given you avoid puddles and dirt, with forward propulsion and ability to last almost an hour are not only perfect but practical for getting around town. Intrigued by the possibilities, we decided to investigate further with intent to purchase. It was only after reading customer reviews, product specifications and other marketing material that we discovered a line, buried deep in the text: “This video is intended as an April Fool’s joke.” Truly a disappointment!
As the hands of the sun gently lifted the curtain of night, the aroma of warm, dry flour simmering in melted butter and caramelized onions woke me with a pleasantness I had not experienced since childhood. I rushed through the morning routine, eager to meet my parents. As I entered the kitchen, I was greeted by their love and warmth. Perhaps it was the atmosphere, perhaps the events leading up to that morning, I felt like a child rushing home from the cold and dark woods, to be greeted by his parents. I felt safe. I felt loved.
This is a true story about the exceptionally short life of a tree. As all good stories go, there are other characters involved. Which would make it a story of a tree, a caring person who loved this tree, a pig, some really mean people and me; well, I’m the narrator, so you can count me out.
Well past his bedtime, I found my ten-year-old intently focused on the objects that lay before him. Glue, scissors, paper and tape gave away the story. Not meaning to disrupt his mission, yet needing to assert my parental responsibility, I cleared my throat, hoping for attention. He turned around, victory pouring from every ounce of his tiny being, holding a complex paper model of the Empire State Building. Instinctively, I reached out to hold the paper model in my hands, amazed that a young child had completed a task intended for much older and mature audience. As I examined the marvel he had created, a rush of memories flooded me, and I found myself standing atop the Empire State Building, watching the sun, setting far into the distance.
We live in a world where children are increasingly being taught cheating, deception, and violence as a result of them playing games and using applications on tablets and smartphones. In this atmosphere of fear and distrust, how is a parent to pass on a tender heart to their children? How can I teach my children to be compassionate and caring? Such is the dilemma I faced.
She stands firmly against a linen white wall, an odd shaped red chair with swirling shadow stripes, making it come alive. She beams with radiance, waiting patiently for someone to be seated. Waiting for someone to tell her story. Waiting… Continue reading The Red Chair→
For the first time in almost a score of years, my wife and I found ourselves looking at each other – without any distractions. No errands to run, no dishes to wash, no mess to clean up. With kids safely with their grandparents, we found ourselves filled with joy, like happy teenagers whose parents are off to Hawaii for a month!!