Tree of Memory

What have you learned about life?

by Michael LaBossiere (Florida A&M)

Some years ago my life was at a terrible low point. My marriage was failing, my career seemed stagnant, and I was stuck in what seemed to be a sea of bleak misery. Many of my problems seemed to stem from my reluctance to do bad things and the willingness of others to prosper through misdeeds.

One morning, when things seemed to be at their lowest point, I went for a run. As I ran, I thought about my life and how I ended up in the situation I faced. In the past, I believed that a person should do what is right—even when it often seems like doing wrong has the greater reward. But, I had seen the rewards of trying to be good and those reaped by those who thought just about themselves. At that moment, I doubted the value of trying to be a good person.

But, as I ran across the wooden bridge in the park, I saw that someone had torn one of the memorial trees out of the ground. They had left a cruel wound where the tree used to be and had tossed the uprooted tree onto a nearby picnic table.

Without reflection or thought, I ran to the hole. I looked at it and read the memorial sign. The tree was dedicated to Lancy Amelie Gray, a fifteen year old girl who had died in 2000. I then went to look at the tree. I could see that it was probably still alive. I walked back to the hole and got down on my knees. Ignoring the stares of those walking by, I dug with my hands until the hole seemed big enough for the tree. I put the tree back in the hole and packed the dirt back into place with my hands. I found a discarded water bottle nearby and ran back and forth between the tree and the fountain until the ground was well soaked.

While people often say that what they do without thinking is not the person they are, I think the opposite is true. What we do without thought often shows us who we really are. In this case, that moment showed me the man who I really am-or perhaps it just reminded me. I knew, as I pushed that earth back into place, that I was the sort of person who replanted trees and not the sort of person who would go through life tearing at things. I was still sad and my marriage still ended, but at that moment I was able to make the right choice and stay on the true path of my life.

Michael LaBossiere is a guy from Maine who went to school in Ohio and ended up a philosophy professor at Florida A&M University. He writes philosophy, horror, fantasy and science fiction. When not writing, he enjoys running, gaming and the martial arts. 

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Author: Brooke Allen

A social entrepreneur and retired Wall Street executive.

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