Healing: A Story

They told me I was worthless,

                                     useless,

                                     waste,

                                     Dead.


Better to cover me up they said,

                                     hide me from view

                                     put someone else prettier over me.


They said I’d never amount to nothing,

                                     I was beyond repair,

                                     not good for anything,

                                     just a dusty old soul.


I myself had started to believe them.


I’d begun to forget the times 

when I was full of energy,

                                     vigor,

                                     beauty,

                                     creativity,

                                     vibrance.


That was so long ago, 

I wondered if it was just a dream,

                                     made-up,

                                     not real.


I could never be like that again. 

I’d seen too much,

                                     got familiar with the world too much.

Felt too much pain,

                                     anguish,

                                     isolation,

                                     depression.


No, I cant be fixed.  I’m well beyond that.  Its over for me now. Over.

Just gonna sit here as I am.  Learn to live life all coiled up,

                                     curled up,

                                     retracted, 

                                     retreated.


I can’t take care of anyone else.  Can’t take care of myself.  

I’m just no good. I’m bad. Been bad for awhile.

Just leave me here to wither away.

………

Some fools been out here recently.  Never seen him before now.

Been talkin bout how beautiful I am,

                                     amazing I am,

                                     full of potential,

                                     wonderful,


Must be a crazy fellow.

Says all I need is some love,

                                     some care,

                                     some food,

                                     and a good rain.


Love isn’t something I believe in, and I can well take care of myself.

But I am pretty damn hungry.

Hard to find food ‘round these parts.

………


Today that fool came back with the so called “food.” 

What does he bring me?

                                     manure,

                                     leaves,

                                     scraps,

                                     shit,

                                     waste.

What do I look like a garbage dump? Don’t get me wrong, 

I’m eating it, but seriously, fuck this guy.

………


Today, I had some visitors for the first time in many years. 

They all came by: some flies,

                                     a few birds,

                                     a lizard or two,

                                     think I might’a seen a worm even


They seem to be attracted to all this 

crap that fool brought me.  I didn’t say anything to them.  

Didn’t wanna scare them away. I was afraid to speak,

                                     didn’t think they’d like me,

                                     just not feelin’ it.


Next time though, next time.  Next time I’ll say “hi” to the worm.  

Back in the day I had some worm friends… I think.  Been so long.

………


Today, my buddy Wormy came by again.  Brought some friends too.  

They’re all askin me if they can move in.  

Say they like me.

                                     Want to stick around.

                                     Start families.

                                     Help out around.


Started giving me all sorts of advice too.  

Bout how I should start eatin better,

                                     drinkin water regularly,

                                     talkin to the visitors,

                                     askin for help

.

They say what that fool brought me ain’t shit, ain’t waste.  They call it “whole food.” Say it’s good for me.  Say he ain’t no fool, he’s a gardener.  They been followin him around.  Great, great, great, great grandparents live on another patch of dirt he tends.

Sound like a bunch of crazy folks to me.  “Whole food.”


Rubbish.

………


They’ve all been nagging me.  The birds, the worms, the gophers, the spiders, the beetles, the plants…. OH yea!  Some plants came to live here!  Seeds floated in on the wind and that fool brought some too.  Couldn’t believe my microbes!  Haven’t seen so many plants in years.  They are even saying that fool…. erm… gardener… is   bringing some trees.  Can you imagine? Trees? Staying here? With me? I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know.


What if I can’t take care of them,

                                     hold them up right,

                                     feed them well,

                                     what if they fall over,

                                     get disease,

                                     don’t grow,

                                     lose their leaves,

                                     dry out,

                                     die.


I can’t be responsible for that.  

There’s no way I could take care of a tree, not to mention ten.  


Anyways, they are all nagging me.  Take better care of myself.  Follow the worms advice.  Say hi to the “gardener” for once. Do that they say, and I’ll be able to take care of a tree, no problem. 


Heard some of these fools talkin about how I could even grow a forest.

What rubbish,

                                     crazy talk,

                                     they must be nuts.

………


Well.  They got to me.The worms and everyone else.  I’ve been eating all the crap…. ermm… “whole food” the gardener’s been bringing by, including this strange new thing called compost, and I must admit I feel better.  Some of it is starting to grow on me, and I will say, I actually like the compost.


Having all these friends around is wonderful.  Did I mention we call ourselves friends now? Well, we’ve been saying friends, but actually in my head I’ve been saying family.  I know, I know. They just moved in.  I haven’t known them that long, but a feeling is a feeling, and to me they feel like family.  Anyways, I won’t get too mushy on you.


I did start talkin to the gardener and he’s actually a nice guy.  Really seems to care about everyone. Even me.


He said he thought I was ready for my first tree.  I tried to explain I wasn’t ready, but he insisted.  Small tree, he said, young and smart.  He’d bring her by.  If I didn’t like her, no problem.  He’d take her to another garden.


Another garden? I’m no garden.  I’m a patch of dirt, thank you very much.

Garden, he said.  And not dirt, “soil.” Earth.

Potato, potaaato.


Well he brought the tree and she was beautiful.  Long silky roots.  Nice thick trunk.  Heart-shaped leaves.  Would you said no?

………


We got along, she and I.  I told her about my past.  A past that was feeling less distant, more real.  It had been a while, but there had been trees here.  Big trees, the kind whose branches go up and then come down to hug you.  There had been all types of other plants too.  And animals and birds and insects and spiders and fungi.


And as my life was coming back to me, I remembered something I’d long forgotten.  There were gardeners then too.  Hundreds of them.They came like this gardener had come, wanting and knowing how to care.  They talked to everyone, as this gardener does, asking after and then guiding us towards out needs.  They were my family, just as the worms, the butterflies, and the squirrels are.  And then they disappeared.


Here my memory faded.  Where they went I couldn’t remember.  What I do remember is what happened after.  Slowly my family unraveled.  The threads that bound us together were cut, sometimes one-by-one and sometimes in great bundles.  They cut me too.  Soon I could barely remember who I was.  Where I used to grow excited by the rain and wind and sun, now each seemed to beat me into dust.  I grew weak,

                                     frail,

                                     forgot myself,

                                     disassembled.


Of course, I didn’t tell the young tree all that.  She didn’t need my story yet. So young, full of vigor.  So optimistic.  But I was remembering.  Remembering all the pain I’d felt, and also the love.  I couldn’t bring my old family back, but I wasn’t too old to start a new one.  We could make a beautiful garden together.

………


It’s been years since that young gardener came along.  It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve grown a beautiful garden together.  The worms families have grown, really grown (can’t seem to avoid them these days). More birds and insects and fungi and flowers and trees have joined our family.  We've been through much together: joy, pain, grief, sorrow, loss, and we’ve gotten through it all together.  


The young gardener isn’t young anymore.  More than a few of his hairs have greyed trying to get others like him to slow down long enough to really see what we’ve done here.  He too has started a family, and now the young ones come to leave their footprint of care, compassion, and love on us, just as we all do for them.


I used to think this world was full of anguish,

                                     suffering,

                                     fear,

                                     waste,

                                     loneliness,

                                     emptiness.


My family has helped me remember a different story. 

A story where we all have place,

                                     purpose,

                                     value.

And our hearts are full of love.  


And it all started with a patch of dirt and pile of shit.

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