Shaking The Tree

You know that feeling.

You’re making progress. You’re moving forward, upwards, in your day, life, career.

Your numbers are adding up and matching. Your art is a cleaner. Your word count is in the triple digits. You’re in a state of Flow. Birds are singing. The sun is brighter. Your kids are well behaved. Your spouse wants to eat where you want to eat, and has even taken the garbage out. Everything is groovy.

You’re climbing that tree of success joy and happiness.

Then something comes along and shakes the fricking tree.

Suddenly you’re falling. Down you go. Grasping at branches. Trying to hold on to whatever you can. Only to keep falling, tumbling, twisting. Until finally, you crash to the ground with a thud. Breathless. Scratched, bruised, battered and torn. Staring up at the tree.

It’s not the first time.

You’ve been on that tree before. You’ve fallen before. And it hurts. It sucks to fall. It makes you sad. Angry. It makes you think about hating trees and moving where you’ll never see another one again.

But that’s too easy. It’s too easy to never try to climb again. It’s too easy to never think about trying again. It’s way too easy to walk away. Put the paint brush down. Press ‘Delete’ on the keyboard and erase the pages.

But you can’t do that. Neither can I.

So we stand up. Brush off the dirt from our clothes. Pull the leaves and broken twigs from our hair. Give the tree a great big hug. Then we reach out, grab a branch, and climb. Because one day, despite all the tears and bruises, we will climb to the top and see the view.

There’s a great song by Peter Gabriel called Shaking The Tree. Listen to it. Watch the clip in the link. Although written for a different purpose, some of the lyrics have helped me keep climbing. I hope it hits you and inspires you to not only climb your tree, but not to fear the shake.



Morning In Hillcrest

Morning Pages at the Starbucks and I’m needing to wake up.

I’m lucky the barista with the short hair and jean shorts remembered my name and order. Because without her help, I would’ve forgotten why I was here.

Now, in this early morning, I sit at a bar height table in the corner of the store. While the morning begins its opus and the sun rises, making the sky glow in red and orange light. The Public shows up.

Alone in this little corner of the world. While the guy with the small laptop sits near me. Busily typing his emails and writing his double-spaced school paper, while sipping his favorite drink. As I sip mine.

Watching as the mobile orders are filled and the names called out to an empty store. Soon to be picked up by the In A Rush commuters. Who park in the Red Zone just long enough to grab their hot or cold or steamy beverages, and win the race ahead of the cop in the little Parking Enforcement cart. Before a ticket can be written and ruin the day.

Regulars sit in their regular spots, with their regular drinks and converse with each other. Talking their regular talk…”Going to be a warm day.” “What happened to Winter?” They talk about family… “How’s your boy?” “Great. He’s graduating from high school this year.” “My dad traveled to Greece once when he was in the Navy.” They reminisce of those who used to join them and are now gone. And I hate myself for thinking that the absence might have something to do with the disease that plagued the neighborhood. Then I feel worse, when the regulars confirm my thoughts and name it.

Morning in Hillcrest. On the corner of Fifth and Robinson. The seagulls from the nearby bay announce their fishing expedition for the day. The buses wake with their engines roaring to life, while the waiting sleepy passengers stand in the cold. Waiting to go to their jobs, or homes, or next shift or to just have a place to sleep for a few stops.

A homeless man, with holes in his clothes and long dirty fingernails paces up and down the broken sidewalk near the window where I’m sitting, and rounds the corner to head East, then back again. His tattered beard of mange hides his chapped lips and sunburnt skin. His pants are falling off of his gaunt frame. Exposing his red long johns. Reminding me of the cowboys from those old John Wayne movies about to hit the outhouse.

Minutes pass and he paces the sidewalk. Staring in to the distance with a longing and morose gaze. As if trying to remember something.

And still, inside the store, the hipsters and yuppies, the nurses and doctors, the workers and doers, the vets and young and old, go about the morning. All of us, doing Life the best way we know how.  Caffeinated and trying to get by. Spending this morning together, in Hillcrest.