Monday, May 25, 2009

The space between

Pin It There is a space.

A place where asphalt meets concrete; you’ve seen this space before I’m sure. Oftentimes, this is the area where new life tries to push forth, eager shoots feeling their way toward the sunlight from narrow crevices in the tarmac jungles of the city.

Each day I pass by the assorted weeds sprouting through the narrow cracks without so much as a second glance—after all, they’re simply weeds: Dandelion shoots, grass tendrils, and wild morning glory; all growing noxiously through the fissure—soon to feel the sweltering heat of the sun as the summer moves in with its searing temperatures. Some of them will survive the intense heat while others will simply expire, leaving behind lifeless remains to be blown away by the wind.

As I passed on one particular morning, I happened to notice something different growing there—it was a sapling; the small seedling of a Locust with its miniature twig-like branches reaching upward to the sunlight, nestled in amongst the weeds.
I passed over this small plant and went about my day, but it was on my mind; in fact, for the next few days I thought about it—and looked at it every time I passed. I knew it would die where it was. After all, it was growing in a zone where it would be cut down, run down, stepped on, or crushed. At such a young size I knew that I could probably pull it up; its chances were much better with my doing this than leaving it to fend for itself in a position of such precariousness where the inevitable result would be fatality.

I waited a few days, until after we’d had a rainstorm. On my way out to my car I paused to examine this small plant. I took it firmly by the stem—one day to be the trunk—and gently pulled.

The roots held determinedly to the packed earth in the fracture where asphalt and cement united together. I didn’t relent, but instead kept steady pressure; suddenly I felt the plant come way quickly. However, that’s when I noticed that I’d snapped the taproot.

I was worried that I’d killed it.

I brought it home and put it in a container of water in the sunny kitchen windowsill and checked it each day. At first there was no change; then it began to look sickly. A few of the little twigs wilted, browned, and fell away.

I was now positive that I’d destroyed it.

I had to remind myself that it was doomed where it was growing—it would only have been a matter of time before a school bus or other vehicle would have crushed it—there was a much greater possibility that it would survive with what I’d done.

I would wait.

After a few weeks, I saw that it was starting to sprout new shoots; tiny roots were also starting to emerge from the whitish base.

It was starting to adapt.

It was going to make it.

After a few more days it the roots were much longer, and even more branches had begun to develop.

It was healthy.

It had survived.

The day of grandeur came two days ago when I took my small friend out to a place away from oncoming cars and the feet of small children; to a place where it will have plenty of room to grow.

I planted it in the rich, warm soil.

It now has wide-open spaces, far away from that small crack where it once found itself; forced to grow—and before summer’s end—would die.
I think of the times in my own life when I am content to let myself survive day to day in a small crack in the ground; a place where life does not thrive and will one day be doused. Sometimes, it takes a lot of courage to move yourself from this little chink in the asphalt to the wide open space where the fields of possibility become yours. At times this move may hurt, old branches may wither away, but new branches will eventually grow to take their place.

Let us not be content with the space between.


Kris said...

Man you said it. I have been thinking about this so much lately. Thanks for bringing it up and writing about it so well! I will de-root myself and find some nice warm soil.

Gerb said...

Wise and thoughtful words, my friend. I look forward to hearing about where your roots take hold - as well as your new branches.

Linn said...

Wow. So very, very wise. And beautifully written of course. I needed to hear that today. Now to find my wide open space. Thanks Jason.

K.J. said...

Alright, I cried as I read this... I have so much going on in my life right now, and I am so emotional!
Thanks for the great story!

Michelle said...

I kinda like that one......I wonder where I need to root.....hum!

Allen said...

Yeah, all your posts are great; always well-written, thoughtful, and entertaining at once. For me this one is even more. The word that comes to mind is SUBLIME.

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