Stress is the worst, but here’s how I learned to deal with it

 

Last year, as most of you probably know, I was a bit of a mess. School and extracurricular activities had completely taken over my life, and I felt like I was drowning in stuff that would never get done. It took me a fairly long while to really feel any better than ambivalent about going back to school—I was terrified that this year would turn out no better than last year, that there was no space left for improvement. Well, I was wrong. I’ve made it through a semester of junior year, which is supposed to be the most stressful time in high school. I won’t lie—it’s tough. But last year was worse.

Here’s the deal with the worst experiences ever, though. Most of us will do anything to prevent them from happening again.

As a result, I spent some quality time thinking about stress, and how I, personally, process and react to it.

So, without further ado, here are what I consider to be the 4 best methods I found for dealing with the massive stress overload that is junior year.

  1. Running
    It’s no secret on this blog that I run. A lot. There’s something about being active, and getting away—mentally and physically—from the work on my desk. Even if not everything gets done, I can say that I ran 5 miles that day. I can take an hour, hit the trails, and when I come back, everything seems a little more manageable. This one might not work so well for people who don’t like running, but… for me, running isn’t just a way of getting in exercise. It’s a form of meditation, a chance to get out of my head and stop overthinking everything. I can just be, me with the nature and the music that is inevitably playing a little too loudly through my headphones, and when I get home, I generally have achy legs, a raging dehydration headache, and a sense that I have done something that day—which is worth a lot, when it seems like it’s impossible to get anything done. Plus, exercise endorphins help to relax you and get a better night’s sleep, out of pure exhaustion if nothing else.
    running
  2. Baking
    On the surface, this looks like it’s just adding another thing to do, in an already over-packed schedule, and it’s timed and messy and easy to screw up… but I don’t see it that way. Yes, I get covered in flour and usually manage to get dough or batter up to my elbows, which proves to be quite difficult to clean off. Yes, it is timed, and it’s occasionally a bit nerve-wracking when you have to check the oven a million times in a five-minute span because at first everything looks undercooked, but if you leave it in too long it gets burnt. And yes, I do it anyway. Baking rarely takes any longer than an hour or two. Like running, it makes me feel like I’ve actually done something enjoyable that day. I get to follow instructions, with visible (and edible!) proof that I’ve done it right, which is one of my eternal frustrations with school—I never know how well I have or haven’t done, until I get something back with a number on it. Baking grants me that level of instant gratification, and because the instructions do often require some level of focus, it allows me to not think about everything else that I have to do. It lets me get outside of my own head a little bit. Plus, I get cookies or muffins or banana bread.
    (I should point out that finals week mostly means my house smells like cookies and bananas for the whole week straight, and we didn’t have space for all the baked goods. Unavoidable hazard, I suppose?)
    And I was able to bring in cookies during finals week, for my stressed-out friends and classmates, which was nice, and still have leftovers, which are currently in my freezer.
    bakingbasics.jpg
  1. Journaling
    Like running, I doubt that this one will surprise anyone who has read this blog for a while, or who knows me in person. I’ve been carrying around small journals since I was little, though I only got serious about writing every day when I was thirteen or so. That need to write—not just fiction, but also poetry, and my own thoughts, even early blog post drafts—has waxed and waned, but has always been present, and lately it’s taken the form of regular journaling, essentially a continuous freewrite on the subject of what happened that day. It’s unbelievably helpful for thinking through the events of the day, processing it and de-stressing from it at the same time. It’s a nice way to end the day, especially if I can think of any good things that happened during the day, which I might otherwise forget in favor of stressing out over pointless details. In addition to journaling, I’ve also been keeping an obsessively organized planner, instead of the computer calendar I used to use. I don’t know—something about the act of writing down plans, and checking items off with their little checkboxes, is really relaxing and it makes me feel much better organized and more accomplished.
    journaling.jpg
  2. Sleep
    I cannot emphasize this enough. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. It’s okay if not everything gets done. Sleep is the foundation of good health, both mental and physical. There is no point in pulling an all-nighter to finish a project, if the work is going to be shoddy and not very well thought-out. It might seem like the work is up to par, but trust me. If it happens after 2 am on a regular basis, chances are, the work is not my best. This is probably the biggest difference between this year and last year—I’ve started prioritizing sleep over assignments, and… it’s actually kind of miraculous. The assignments don’t all get done, but my teachers understand. My grades have gone up (reducing a major point of stress right there). The world doesn’t stop spinning if I don’t finish a minor science lab. I haven’t (knock on wood) gotten sick this year.
    Obviously, I’m not advocating for everyone to suddenly slack off on all their work. But I am saying that every once in a while, it’s okay to not be perfect, if it means getting a decent night’s sleep out of it.

Through these four actions, I’ve gotten back to enjoying school. I no longer feel like I’m drowning in more work than I can handle. Junior year is tough, but so far it’s been doable. I certainly wouldn’t repeat what I went through last year, but I’m glad that I learned what I did from the experience.
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7 Reasons Why I Love Air Travel

Air travel seems to be a bit of a controversial thing. Some people hate it. Some people love it. Some people just look at it as a way to get from point A to point B.

I belong to the second category. So, without further ado:

  1. The adventure.
    I don’t know if other people feel this, or if I even feel it when I’m not travelling alone or with a group of friends. But when I’m through security and off in the world of hard-to-navigate concourses and overpriced food, I feel like I’m not just going somewhere, I’m going somewhere. I’m striding out into the big, wide, world. Responsibility yep, that’s me.
  2. The miracle of flight.
    Airplanes are actually pretty incredible when you think about it. They’re big and fat and made of metal, but also they manage to fly.
    Birds actually need to have hollow bones to weigh less in order to make it off the ground. But airplane engines are really freaking heavy, and they manage to propel this thing literally tens of thousands of feet in elevation. I always sort of feel like I’m from the future when I settle in and watch the scenery diminish out the window.
  3. The culture combinations.
    I’m from Atlanta, home to one of the busiest international airports in the world. Walking from security to my gate, I can easily hear twelve or thirteen different languages, and I can see the different fashions and styles from different places. It’s beautifully diverse. Airports are a crossroads for so many people who will never meet. I know at least seven of my friends were in the same airport at the same time as me, but… well, two ships passing in the fluorescent-lightbulb noon light?
  4. The people-watching
    Similar to the above. I’m a writer, and I’m constantly looking for some new character detail to incorporate. I tend to pick up those details by people-watching in busy places, and… well, there is no better place to do that than a place in which people are coming from Hong Kong and going to Cancún, or coming from France and going to Taiwan or Dubai. People carry so many elements of who they are on the outside, without thinking about it, and that creates a lot of opportunities for a writer like me. I can ask questions in my head like, where did that scarf come from, or what would bring a person to Atlanta, or even what causes a person to drink sprite instead of cranberry juice? And then I get to make up those answers, and that’s where I get characters, or snapshots, and then I can go and write short stories, or poetry, or whatever it is that I end up writing,  from there.
  5. The destination
    Okay, this one is pretty obvious. I love landing wherever I’m going, and looking around at baggage claim to find whoever is meeting me. I love knowing that I’m about to go off and have fun, to climb a mountain, to go to a summer program, or to visit a college. The destination isn’t just a physical place, it’s also the people who are there, whether that’s family or friends, peers or co-workers… I get excited to see them, every time.
  6. The view.
    Especially if I have the window seat, I love watching the ground grow tiny, reduced to geometric patterns smaller than a postage stamp. As long as I’m below cloud cover, the world is reduced to what looks like the cover of a John McPhee book, or one of my dad’s more abstract photos. And then, above the clouds, the view resembles an ocean more than it does puffy water vapor. Even if I’m seated directly next to the wing, the view never fails to astound me. Then, the landing view is just as intriguing, as the ground seems to grow bigger, and I can always get a good sense of the scenery of a place by flying over it at a low altitude. My two favorite cities to land in so far are Chicago and Boston, because of the clean lines of the beaches leading up to the cities, with real-life, actual trees everywhere.
    It’s also particularly interesting to fly over large swaths of the east and midwest when the snow hasn’t melted for springtime yet. I could see large patches of the map, looking like someone spilled flour and powdered sugar all over a printout of a Google Maps satellite view. It’s gorgeous, and it’s also absolutely unearthly… which is probably why I like it.
  7. The quiet.
    I live a very noisy life. I go to a school full of social teenagers, I’m in a loud and generally chaotic youth group, and my house is about as far from quiet as it gets. I never really get to just plug in a pair of earbuds and stop doing things, so that I can simply take a deep breath, open a book, and read. Or even just watch the aforementioned beautiful view. Or close my eyes, and do absolutely blissful nothing. Especially when flying alone, that two-hour flight is a good relaxation place for me. I can sit and just be for a while, but it’s not such a long while that my legs cramp up and I feel gross after a day of being absolutely sedentary.

Air travel is everything that I love about travel, with the additional magic of being several thousand feet off the ground. It’s a routine, a ritual, but there’s something drastically different about it every time, whether that’s the airport food you eat, or the gum you chew as the flight takes off and lands. Yes, air travel can be annoying. Yes, there can be hang-ups and snags every which way. But even so. Something inside of me is more than willing to put up with all of the frustration for the sake of the pieces that make it wonderful.

5 Lessons to be learned from “bad” TV

I spend my days coming up with smartass comments and daydreaming.

When I do watch TV, it is something bright and intellectual that I will then talk about for days with my family, who are also all watching this show (looking at you, Broadchurch and Orphan Black).

But I’m also a teenager. And there is a whole world of television aimed directly at my demographic. When I am stressed out and exhausted, it’s a lot easier to watch a show with airbrushed attractive people working out drama that is completely unlike any drama I have, than it is to watch a show with intellectual people speaking quickly and talking about problems that the world is actually facing today.
I won’t defend it. I’m being sucked in for exactly the reasons the market wants me to be. I started watching shows “ironically,” and then realized a couple of seasons later… I was actually interested in how the plot would turn out. Oh, well.

1. Your true friends will be there for you no matter what, and that’s why you shouldn’t ever hurt them.
Friends are the people who stick with you for non-genetic reasons, and if you’re lucky enough to know them practically from birth, they’re the ones who will watch you grow up through the awkward phases and into adulthood. As a result, they’ll witness your temper in full glory, and still be there. But you’d better do the same for them, because that’s what friendship is: a bond that goes both ways.

friendship tvd(cred: the cw website)

2. It’s okay to complicate things.
Saying words like “I like you,” or “I’m sorry” can seem daunting. They almost always do. But in the end, everything sorts itself out. The people who run away come back if they’re worth it, or else we can chase them down, and talk it out. Communication matters, and blocking people isn’t worth it. It’s okay to mess life up a little bit, because better to lay things out in the open than it is to bottle up the unpleasantness.

 

 

3. Nothing is irreconcilable

pinterest Skins site

(cred: the Skins website)

Remember that horrible, nasty character from season one? Well, now that you’re on season five, that character is probably still a part of the main cast, and is also now a somewhat comedic (and occasionally dark and complicated) part of the main cast, aka the hero team. By the time the show’s finale rolls around, they’ll probably be one of the ones you cry for.
This holds true for real life. You might think you hate someone now, but if you go through enough with them, you might end up being friendly, and if you keep talking, you could end up being friends. It goes back to communication. If you establish common ground, then you can reconcile your differences. Maybe not forget about them, but reconcile them. I have a friend whom I spent years not being able to stand. We spent nearly ten months not speaking to each other at all. Now? We talk. We found common ground and we stand upon it proudly, choosing to look at the present and the future instead of scowling sullenly at our past.

4. Don’t give up on yourself.
Just about every TV show I have ever watched, teen-oriented or not, has a season arc in which a character gives up on themself. It never ends well. Likewise, in life, there are those times when it’s easier to stop and break down rather than pushing forwards. But as the saying goes, “the right thing and the easy thing are never the same.”

cherylchnggcred: quoteandlyric.tumblr.com

5. In the end, it’ll be okay.
After a season full of drama, it might not all go back to normal, but there will be enough of a hopeful note that they’ll come back to watch next season. Conflicts get resolved. During the season itself, everything seems like it is about to fall apart. But we don’t watch the shows for the awful things that happen. Those aren’t the reasons we care about the characters. We care about them because of the happy And by the time the end credits play on the last episode, we know that at least some of the situation is resolved. That’s how TV works, but it’s also the way that life can work too, if we stop worrying about the bad things that happen and start to look at the future as place of opportunity.

ggend(cred: the cw website)

These “lessons” show up in the “good” TV, too. They show up in life, in books, all over the place.

It doesn’t matter where we run into lessons like this. It matters that we pay attention to them when we notice them.

Know what makes you happy: Some thoughts on awareness

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It’s eating disorder awareness month. So, in the last few days of the month, I am writing.

No, I don’t have an eating disorder. But honestly, that probably makes it all the more important that I do stand up as an advocate for a healthier outlook on something.

I cannot personally relate to the topic of an eating disorder. However, I am writing about something I can relate to, something that is related, but not the same. Emotional self-awareness.

Everyone has days when they can find nothing to smile about. When they feel like the world is falling apart.

And to them, it really might feel like the world is crashing down around them.

Others might try and find ways to cheer them up, by using the same things that make them smile.

But often, it doesn’t work.

The simple truth is: Everyone has something that can make them smile, no matter what. The trick is finding it. The reason why it’s different for everyone? Everyone is different.

I asked several people I know what makes them smile.

The answers were incredibly diverse. One person said that a cute animal always does the trick. Someone else said that lame puns work for them.
I think that my favorite of these was also the fastest reply I got.

“If anyone else smiles at me. I smile back, and smiling makes me feel better. It’s reflexive.”

I find it to be incredibly important that we all know what affects us in a positive way. If you have never taken the time to identify something that can lift your spirits,then every time you’re feeling down, you’ll end up using the guess-and-check method to try and help yourself out.

It’s not healthy.

Before I started asking this question, I hadn’t put much thought into it, myself.

And I realized that that’s probably part of the reason it’s so easy to send me into an emotional tailspin, every time I get stressed out.

I’m a perfectionist. I like everything to be working smoothly, every time. And when it’s not… I spiral. I am more than capable of taking a mild annoyance and then mentally turning it into THE END OF THE WORLD OH GOD OH GOD WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE. And I’m not the only person I know who does that. In fact, I’m friends with a whole lot of people who do that exact thing to themselves.
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We’ve all gotten really good at pulling each other up out of the messes we create, which is why the one thing that can always help me calm down and just think fora minute, instead of panicking is a friend. It can be a little message icon on my phone. It can be a Snapchat. Sometimes it’s a two-hour long therapeutic talk over Skype or over the phone, if I haven’t seen the friend in a long time. I’ve called people for this one, and I’ve been called. I’ve stayed up past midnight to help out a friend when she was freaking out, thanks to a large time-zone difference, and I’ve done it more than once. I won’t drop everything to pick up the phone, but for some people, I will drop a lot of things.

And, because of the way that m   y friends and I help I asked another question as a follow-up to the first one. I asked what they do to cheer up someone who they don’t know. If they saw someone crying, or even just looking really miserable, but didn’t know them at all.

Some people told me that they wouldn’t do anything. I can understand that well enough—assuming that someone sitting alone wants to stay alone, or even just needing to be somewhere, and therefore not stopping in the middle of a busy day.

Others told me that they would go and get that person’s friends, if they knew who they were. That was a popular answer.

But there were a few answers that really stood out.

One person told me that he would stop and try to make friends with that person, find something that they had in common so that he could bring humor into the situation.

Someone else said that she would just give them a cookie.

One of my musically-talented friends mentioned that she might serenade them.

Another response was just to run up and hug the person (this particular person also ran up and hugged me, to demonstrate, when I asked him).

It all comes back to awareness.

If we are aware of our own emotions, if we know that we can build up our own confidence to pull ourselves up when we fall down, we can overcome a lot.
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Maybe we can’t overcome disorders or mental health issues.

But we can help ourselves reach the point where we’re a little closer. And maybe we can help other people get there too.

My mom has a rule in life. “Do what makes you happy.”

And she’s right. Happiness is key. I have a slight amendment to that rule: “Know what makes you happy.”

Wallowing in stress, and spiraling, the way that I have done from time to time? That’s not a good thing. But having a way to prevent it before it happens, or a way to help your defeated self to your feet when it’s all over? That very much is.

In the ends it’s important to remember: It might not feel like it, but in the end, it will be okay.

What makes you smile?
behappy3

 

Self-awareness-squirrel

Never Forget This You (NFTY Convention Post 1)

It is no secret that I have been an outsider, despite how deeply ingrained I am in my school’s community and in various groups. I’m an outsider because I’m a Jew in a Christian school, and often the only Jew in a given room.

Religious community is incredibly important, especially with the religion that I am a part of. Most people I know went to Jewish day schools every school day, either until or through middle school. Even those who didn’t, at least they attended Jewish summer camps.

I went to religious school once a week.

They had this community deeply ingrained into them from every angle, every day of their lives from the day they were old enough to understand it.

I… didn’t. At least not in the same way.

Obviously, I still had some aspect of the community growing up. Some of my closest friends are people I knew through religious school as a first grader. My parents insisted that Judaism always be a part of my life.

I had a community, and I know that.  But the community that was, to me, the only one I knew, was simply an aspect of the community to those who grew up with religious summer camps, or with day school. Mine was never the full experience to them, and some part of me probably knew that.

I do not, have never, and will never regret the route that my religious education has taken. I owe who and where I am today in part to that route.

But the fact remains, much of the time I still do not have that close-knit community that most of my peers do.

That’s one of the main parts of what makes my youth group, the North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY), so special to me. It’s a community where I can loudly, freely, unabashedly, be myself and love every second of it.

I’m used to regional NFTY events. Before this past weekend, the largest convention I could conceive of was 350 people. Maybe 400 if I really pushed it.

And then this weekend happened.

All 19 regions, all under one roof.

More than a thousand teens.

The largest community I have ever been privileged enough to know.

NFTY

I made friends from other countries (shoutout to NFTY NEL), and other states. I became significantly closer with members of my own region, who quickly went from being “acquaintances” to being “friends” and then from “friends” to “family.”

I had the chance to see my city in a whole new way, and to experience that from inside a community that is simultaneously the most expansive and the most whole I have ever known…

“Incredible” doesn’t hope to sum it up.

To add to that, the event got even more special.

NFTY has a “rival” (it isn’t really fair to call these two groups rivals, they function completely separately and differently from each other) called BBYO. There’s a long history of NFTY and BBYO disliking each other.

This past weekend served to change the negative perceptions for a lot of people.

That’s because, the same weekend as NFTY had our national convention, BBYO was having their international convention, and we attended limudim, or study programs, together, creating the largest gathering of Jewish youth ever seen in the US, and probably in all of North America.

I participated in meaningful discussions, laughed and joked around with people I had known for all of fifteen minutes, and felt closer with than some people whom I have known for years.

It was a weekend of singing songs in a language that few spoke natively, yet everyone knew that words.

It was a weekend of human contact and instant connectivity, of hugging strangers and crying four days later, when I knew that they’d become some of my closest friends.

A weekend of texting the NFTYites who weren’t there, of inside jokes and of universalities.

I’m so unbelievably lucky to have been a part of this convention, and I cannot put into words how much I miss it.

NFTY is my home, wherever it is, whenever I happen upon it.
I love it more than anything. Not just my synagogue’s small segment of it. Not just my friends. Not just my region. All of it.

My love cannot be counted, for it consumes me.

“NFTY” is an acronym of many alternate meanings (“never forget these years” is a popular one), but I learned a new one this weekend. Never Forget This You. I’m a different person from who I was before this convention. I like this post-convention me. I’m more centered. More complete.

I have my community, and I carry that with me.

Every NFTY convention has an evening—or a morning— where we wrap our arms around each others’ shoulders and sway in time to a music we create ourselves, and it always burns a in me with the flame of a candle, close by and comforting.

I carried that feeling with me, through all of the national convention, and into the week afterwards.

I never want to let go.

NC15

 **********

NOTE: This post is one in a series of three about NFTY Convention. I wanted to write just the one post about it, but honestly, I can’t contain what I want to say in so few words, so I’ve separated out the main topics I want to talk about, and each of those will get their own post.

A New Semester is a Fresh Start

I’ve been back at school for almost a month now, but the semester hasn’t really kicked into gear until this week. And one of my teachers said something with regard to her class, and it really resonated with me. She said that, twice a year, each student gets a chance to reinvent themselves. The grades don’t carry over. The longest non-summer vacation time has just taken place. It’s a clean slate.

Well, as clean as any slate can be for a high school student.

But I am determined to clean mine as much as is possible.

I let things slide a little last semester. Okay, a lot. I overloaded, and it was bad.

Since then, I’ve cleared a little space in my schedule, and I’ve reorganized. I’m working ahead, and I have an hour or two more almost every day that I didn’t have last semester. More than that, I know what it is to be in the place I was in at the end of last semester, and I am determined not to end up there again. So I’m cleaning up my act.

I was efficient before. I had to be, because I knew that if I was not efficient, I would crash and burn within seconds, and then that would spiral into more crashes and burns further down the road.

I learned from that. I shut down social media much more readily now. I sit down to work, and I work, until everything is finished. I’ve built up strong relationships with all of my teachers, to the point where I can ask for an extension if necessary, or where I feel comfortable asking if I can modify an assignment here or there. The point is, I’ve gotten really good at doing nine or ten hours of work in fewer than five or seven hours.

But now, I make sure that I also have time to read a book or two every day or two. I put on a TV show a couple of times a week. I don’t rush through eating dinner with my mom and dad. I don’t find myself frantically doing homework in the car, for fear that it won’t get done otherwise. I have time to write during the day, and I’ve finally picked up speed on a long-term project again—I was in a bit of a slump while working on edits for Touchstones, my book (more information on that later—there will be an official “THIS BOOK IS PUBLISHED” post), and then in another slump right after NaNo, when I ran out of steam on my revisions.

I’m in a much better place, and I have a little bit of room to breathe.

Of course, I know that my breathing space is a bit limited, and I know that it will diminish in a week or so, when Touchstones is finally, officially published, and also when track season starts.

I also know that even if I’m in a better place now than I was a month ago, I’m still probably overloaded, and I don’t have any guarantee that I won’t end up in the exact same downward spiral at the end of this semester.

But I can do my best, and last semester, I didn’t even have the spare time to do that.

I’m not trying to say “new semester, new me.” I’m not a different person.

I’m actually trying to say “new semester, old me.” Because really, I haven’t been me for a while. I spent so much time being stressed out and freaking out that I had to work to smile. And that isn’t me. I refuse to let it be. So I’m going to use this semester, and any time I might have gained back, to reintroduce myself to the world.

Let’s start here.

Hi, I’m Maxxe. Nice to meet you. How are you?

 

Oh, it is good to be me again.

Planting Trees, and Some Musings

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Yesterday was the Monday of a long weekend for me. I could have slept in, but instead, I went out and planted trees with a local group. It was cold at first, and I would be lying if I said it was anything other than hard work. I ran into a few people I haven’t seen in years. There was good coffee, and never a dull moment.

It was an unequivocally positive experience.

I’ve always been a tree hugger. Maybe that’s because I grew up helping out in the family garden, up to my elbows in mulch and soil, with the understanding that, in the family garden, anything I accidentally uprooted, I would have to replant. Maybe it’s because I was lucky enough to attend a school for eleven years that taught tree-planting as a life skill, and where gardening was required every year.

My point is, I love nature, and planting trees is nothing new to me.

But this experience, oddly enough, was.

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I’ve done stuff like this before. I’ve gone and planted plants, and set mulch around them, and heaven only knows I am no stranger to watering green saplings with buckets of river water.

But I’ve never been old enough to do it on my own.

I don’t mean that in terms of physical strength. I haven’t actually grown that much in a long time. I mean it in terms of maturity, in terms of my ability to carry on a conversation.

A couple of years ago, maybe even last year, I would have volunteered, and clung to my parents the whole time. Being one of not very many teenagers, there, I might not have introduced myself to only the adults my parents already knew, and I probably would have shied away from the little kids.

But yesterday, that didn’t happen.

I went off on my own, clutching a roll of biodegradeable tape, which I used to mark the newly planted trees, thus saving them from death by being overlooked by a stray lawnmower. I talked with most of the people I encountered, including a lot of little kids, and several people who know my parents. But I was on my own.

swampWhiteOak

And that got me thinking, about trees and symbolism, and growing up.

Because trees? They start out right next to their parent-trees, from which their seeds are dropped. Then they start sprouting roots. But they only flourish if those roots have space to spread out.

However, they won’t spread out if they don’t sprout in the first place. And they won’t sprout if they’re never dropped from a tree.

It’s all a cycle, and every step is reliant on that which came directly before it.

People are like that too. Or at least, I know I am.

I was out and about essentially on my own yesterday, though my parents were there and we did spend some time together at the event. But that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t met at least a couple of these people before, which I would not have if I hadn’t stayed close by my parents the last time we did something like this, which we wouldn’t have done if my parents hadn’t ingrained a sense of environmental responsibility in me from a very young age.

oak

It all comes back to the beginning.

It’s like a book.

Every new chapter is new and exciting, but it couldn’t possibly have happened without the chapter before it. Even the first chapter of any book is still heavily reliant on the parts of the story that are not being narrated. And if you don’t have those? Then chances are, I’m not all that interested in the story, because if you ask me, it isn’t one.

It’s as if trees didn’t have roots. They wouldn’t be trees. And if people didn’t have the ability to grow up, we wouldn’t be people.

We would be a race of children (more so than we already have the tendency to be), wandering the earth in search of the Fountain of Aging, instead of the Fountain of Youth..

I would rather be a tree, with its roots that spread far, far away, far enough to become entangled with other roots far enough away that they cannot be seen, even if the viewer stands directly below the tree itself.

In the meantime, I plant the trees, so I may later stand under shade.

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