I long to see the world. As I creep along the earth, I wonder what it must feel like to stand tall, confidently hovering above everyone else. I have been teased for being stout, for being thick skinned, for being spineless…but I take it all in quietly for I know the truth above all truths – that appearances are transient and these words will not matter when we are all returned to the earth. Some say I am an abode of kernels of great wisdom, all I try to do is appreciate the world around me and life’s little pleasures.
But there is one being in our garden who never says a word…who stands in quiet confidence, enveloped in mystery. I am mesmerized by its beauty, its timelessness, and its seeming humility despite having reached the heavens. We come from different worlds, but I still feel a strange pull towards it and every day, I wish to see the world through the eyes of the pine tree.
I long for companionship. For a friend. For someone to share this unending journey with. It is not easy being me. Everyone thinks I have the answers, that I soar to great heights because of a hunger to see the world…but it couldn’t be further from the truth. I wish I could crawl along the dirt and take in the earth’s fragrance after a rain shower. Wither away each autumn and come alive again in the spring. Aerial beings use me at their whim to rest awhile, but I am nothing more than a sturdy respite to them. I have deep veins and roots, yet I feel completely hollow inside.
They say that when you want something with all your heart, the entire universe conspires in helping you achieve it. Maybe that was the reason why I found myself growing closer to my dreams. Until one day, the majestic pine stood right before me in all its might and grandeur. With all my dreams and excitement squashed inside, I did what no one had ever dared to do before – I opined my inner desire to see the world.
It certainly was an odd request. And I am going to be honest – I had my fears. It was different, and a world where no member of my family had ventured before. For eternity, we only rooted for our own kind and were taught to pity others as lowly earthlings. We were the rulers of the earth, idolized for our strength, beauty and majesty. Plus, would I be able to carry its weight? Yes, I was known to be strong but all my life I only held needles and cones. But I couldn’t deny the strange pull I felt towards it. Despite its trivial size and peculiar shape, it exuded a sense of inner peace…as if it knew the secret to happiness. Could this be the answer to my loneliness? Defying the principles I had been raised with, I chose to explore this new world and conceded to what would turn into the friendship of a lifetime and a green revolution.
If there is heaven on earth, it is this…it is this.
It took several weeks but the wait was worth it. The view from above was unlike anything I had imagined. I could see my family in our little pumpkin patch, the cucumbers, the collard greens, the marigolds, the roses, the blue skies, the endless white clouds, the mountains…it was inspiring and humbling at the same time. But even after seeing the world and conquering my dreams, what I fell in love with most was something I had never expected. I fell in love with the companion and benefactor of my journey, rather than the coveted destination. I had discovered a new bond, a friendship like no other.
We couldn’t have been more different. I joked that we made a perfect ‘10’ together – it was tall and lean like a ‘1’, and I was short and stout like a ‘0’. We felt a deep sense of kinship, unlike either of us had ever felt before with our own kind.
At first we wondered at the effortless depth of our relationship. But over time, we realized the secret to our sense of bonding…after all we had taken birth from the same earth.
There are countless examples of camaraderie, of friendship and ‘live and let live’ all around us. Of a world were meat-eaters and non-meat eaters, of wine-lovers and sobriety-dwellers, of pine trees and pumpkins living together in peace, and helping each other achieve great heights. If God had wished to, he could have placed all of the different species on an independent planet of their own. But He did not… Perhaps it has been so that we may dwell on our inherent oneness and learn from one another.
“O mankind! We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another.”
(Qur’an 49:13; Surah or Chapter ‘The Rooms’)
A writer, a dreamer and a seeker, the author is the founder of The Interfaith Text Study at the University of North Florida, USA.