I haven’t written much over the past two-and-a-half weeks. A few personal journal entries, but that’s about it.
It’s fairly easy to connect that lack of writing to a two-fisted bout of anxiety and depression. I keep ping-ponging between the two, with occasional bits of focus on the present. I’m managing it all way better than I used to, though. For example, I’m not spending all available downtime in bed, sleeping away reality. And I’m leaning into the stuff I don’t want to deal with, doing it anyway. Crucially, I’m also not beating the hell out of myself for not writing like I’m “supposed to be doing.”
I understand that what I’m “supposed to be doing” right now is what I always need to do: meet myself where I’m at and work through it accordingly.
Today was a really good day; like … really good. Until it wasn’t. Now I’m trying to pull myself out of a tailspin, regain control, level out for the rest of the evening. The situation reminds me of a similar time about a week-and-a-half ago.
It was a particularly bad time, but I opted for not hiding in bed all day like I wanted to. Instead, I went for a long walk. I’m fortunate enough to live in an area where a 15-minute walk puts me on dirt roads that are seldom traveled, where my only company is the trees and wildlife.
This particular day, I headed down a road I’ve only walked a few times. It’s paved and has more traffic, but I wanted something different from the usual path. There were a few deer grazing in a distant meadow. I stopped to watch for a bit as they ate their way across the emerald carpet beneath them. Then I moved on, and they looked up to watch me. I got to a big curve in the road, and I followed the dirt road that forked off at the bend.
As soon as I stepped onto the road, a black Ford Explorer rumbled past me. Two minutes later, it came back through. I worried that maybe a homeowner’s hackles were raised by seeing someone walking past in the middle of the day. I thought about turning back, but it was such a nice day, and if someone had a problem with my being on the road, they could tell me.
Anyway, as I walked along, I found myself taken with two trees.
The first was more or less growing out of nothing. At one time, it had a tenable purchase in a shallow layer of soil atop a boulder. Years, weight, and weather conspired against it, though, and its trunk now leans at an almost-perfect, 45-degree angle. Branches grow out of it, straight toward the sky. Another branch extends level with the ground before dissolving into shattered bone that’s been broken by impact with the ground beneath.
But that tree was in full bloom. Leaves were running late, just like all the other foliage this spring, but it was getting by just fine despite it’s precarious existence.
Up the road a bit was another tree, this one standing straight and skeletal against a sky filling with storm clouds. It wasn’t until after I took a picture of it that I noticed the green balloon of life among the tangle of bony fingers. Midway up one branch were a few smaller offshoots, loaded with baby leaves.
I wondered what there was within that tree that allowed life to flourish in one particular spot when all else was dead. Then I thought of Groot.
I’m assuming you know Groot. The sentient tree-alien from the Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers movies, not to mention all sorts of comic books? The one voiced by Vin Diesel? Of “I am Groot” fame? Yeah, him.
Anyway, I started thinking about Groot, on account of these two trees that held onto life despite way-less-than-ideal circumstances. In the movies (MCU SPOILERS AHEAD, FYI), Groot came really close to dying, sacrificing himself to save his teammates. Fortunately, he grew back from the tiniest of remnants. A few years later, he gave up an arm so Thor could use it as a handle on his Stormbreaker weapon. Then, of course, poor Groot got dusted by Thanos, but once again, he came back as strong and determined as ever.
Trees – Earth trees and talking alien trees alike– go through a hell of a lot, and it takes even more to knock them down.
Standing on that dirt road last week, Groot on my mind and the grim determination of nature in my sights, I wondered about me.
There’s been more than a few times I’ve felt dusted by the snap of my psyche’s Infinity Gauntlet. And each time, I’ve come back. Rebuilt in different ways, a little stronger each time.
Sometimes perched at an odd angle, seemingly ready to fall over, but still standing, regardless.
At other times, achey and frozen from panic, just one part of me still functioning in any way that feels normal. But still there.
I walked back home wondering, Am I Groot?
By the time I got back, I’d decided.
Yeah. I am Groot.