I once found a stick on the ground and, somehow, it became a symbol of meaning. A stick. The most plain and overlooked participant in this weird thing we call the world. It was off to the side of a path between my house and the class I was walking back from while in college.
This stick wasn’t especially interesting. A normal stick. It looked like it had ben detached from its former tree for a while. It was dry and brittle.
This was one of those days where, if the sun exists, it certainly wants to be left alone. The clouds were grey and went on forever. It was late into the winter and any excitement surrounding snow was buried underneath the snow still on the ground. And here was this stick and it just sat there plainly. So I leaned down and picked it up.
Whether I was desperate for meaning or the stick was desperate for some purpose in its now detached life, who knows. But I held the stick and realized I was holding a reflection of myself. Believe me, I know. Puke. How sophomoric of an observation. The stick me, me the stick. Whatever, right?
But I was, in some odd way, being bridged together with this isolated little remnant of a tree. I started peeling back layers of its bark and seeing a smooth and lightly toned wood underneath it that was far more presentable and, in a sense, real. The outer bark layer chipped off like nothing. The brittleness made the process extraordinarily easy.
When you’re hiding, why?
Especially when the outer shell is so weak and the inner self is so smooth and welcoming and true. This stick had the most pathetic callousness. There was something so extraordinary underneath that its outward ugly self refused to let be seen.
And how similar was I in that moment. A front of stoicism that the stick, had it had eyes, would’ve seen plainly on my face. But as the stick let me hold it, stoicism was replaced by a tear or two. Why? God I don’t know. Why is there smoothness when the bark is peeled away?
Why cant we all stand naked and unassuming? Holding ourselves loosely and honestly and accepting that which lies underneath and presenting it? So much of life is a brittle and unimpressive front. Peel away and expose the truth. The shell isn’t even strong. And what lies beneath is so much more smooth, welcoming and beautiful.
Let your eyes puke out tears.