The Dead Cedar

In one of my first encounters with the Guilford Woods, I cam across an old dead tree that stood out from the rest. Every time I come back into the woods I visit this tree. Standing here I see how it stands out because it’s surrounded by a bunch of American beech trees.  The trunk of the cedar tree is twice the size of the beech trees.  The bark is slick and multicolored.  It almost looked as if it had been sculpted with clay.  The branches stretch in awkward angles.  I wonder how something so beautiful, could be dead inside. 

 Without any words, I feel a sense of recognition from the tree. Its branches almost extend down and envelop me with a loving embrace.  My problems of not fitting in here seem insignificant.  The tree feels me and I feel it.  I sit down beside its trunk and think. Being Asian American at this campus is just like being a cedar tree in an area full of American beech trees.  I begin to wonder if the tree feels lonely.  Can trees feel lonely?  My Native American Religion class would say yes.  I sit and listen.  I wonder what the tree looks like on the inside. How could it be dead and stand so tall and beautifully?  I stand up and take a step back to see the whole tree.  As I stare it is like I am looking in a mirror, seeing my own reflection looking back at me.  I think maybe it died of loneliness here.  Grappling with the idea of leaving the college, I wonder if the tree would have left if it could. 

I never thought that I could or would ever have such an emotional connection to a tree. Then I found this tree. It spoke right to me. The longer I was in its presence the more I felt like we were connected. Somehow I think it understands me in a way that others can’t. I wonder if my other Asian American friends back home ever found something so grounding in their life. I know that other people feel the way that I do but just suffer in silence. Everyone faces loneliness. Even this tree.

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