Friday, September 28, 2012

Tree Work

Zen Master Setchō Jūken (980 - 1052) once said, "To say something up a tree is easy. To say something under a tree is difficult. This old monk will climb up the tree. Bring a question!"  Setchō meant that it is easy to express peculiar ideas, but difficult to manifest the everyday state.

A year or so ago, when I first left the corporate world and went out on my own, I experienced great anxiety.  Will I go broke?  Will I become homeless?  What will happen to me?

One very particular, if not peculiar, way this anxiety expressed itself concerned a young poplar tree in my back yard.  I live in a virtual urban forest, surrounded by tall trees.  This particular poplar was growing too close to a stucco retaining wall, and as the tree grew the roots were expanding and causing not only the wall to buckle and bulge, but to actually move.  It got to the point where a wooden gate between the wall and the house would no longer close, as the retaining wall had slowly crept several inches over and narrowed the  distance between the wall and the house.  I worried that one day, the wall would collapse altogether, and if it didn't result in a full-on landslide, at the very least the tree would fall and damage the house.  The cost of the repair, to the house, to the wall, to the tree, to whatever else, was beyond my estimation, but I worried that it would bankrupt me and that I would be ruined, forced to foreclose on my home and move out of the neighborhood in disgrace.  I actually spent several sleepless nights worrying about this scenario, as far-fetched as it may sound.

Today, I finally got around to taking control of my anxiety and doing something, other than worrying, about the situation.  I got an estimate and hired a tree service company, and this morning a small squadron of workers descended on my yard to take down the tree as well as some errant branches from other trees that hung over my house and worried me.

Fearlessly rappelling up the trees with chainsaws dangling from their hips, they removed the branches and took the poplar down incrementally, starting at the top and working their way down in 8 to 10 foot segments.  Just watching them high up in the tall trees could induce vertigo, but they supplied me with ample firewood for this winter, as well as more wood chips than I know what to do with.

So now the tree is down and the wall is safe.  I will repair and replace the gate, and everything will be back to normal.  As it turns out, I had to climb a tree before I could once again manifest the everyday state.

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