Wednesday, May 30, 2012
If a Tree Falls
I have opened my heart once again, and to this I say “thank you” to everyone who loves me. I was morel hunting this morning—one of my private passions I don’t need to talk about—and suddenly it hit me how wrong I have been approaching the last few months. My biggest fault is to clench my fists after breaking new emotional ground when in fact these are extremes, intimately combined and yet irreconcilably unrelated.
I have been steeling myself because I had a dogged determination to make it to the finish line of the fall-winter-spring season of my orchestra. Unless I have forgotten something, I have played every single rehearsal or concert required of me since last year’s Cabrillo Music Festival thru the entire main season of my home orchestra in Grand Rapids. That’s a whole year. I have cells of a craniopharyngioma floating in my brain and yet I did my job the same as everyone else, tumor or not. Yay, Ale!
The first few times I passed this test, there were parades. Ticker-tapes! Then, after a while, it got old. I’m jumping through the same hoops. The crowd thins out and I have to find the strength to do this on my own. With dedicated fans watching the same heroic act getting lamer, I get bored too. There is nothing innately fantastic about watching an anemic person get hormone replacement therapy so he can do normal things. Ale washes the dishes and the crowd goes wild! No, it’s not really that good. And yet it is.
People in my same position, diagnosed the very same month as me in 2009, have now notched as many as seven brain surgeries. I had two quick surgeries, one after the other, and since them I have been fine. This is luck, or destiny, or whatever you want to make of it. I get to go morel hunting as recently as this morning, slipping on my long boots, happily stumbling up and down steep slopes of trillium. It is gorgeous, God-given beauty, smelling the apple blossoms and wild ferns multiplying in the deep woods. Not a voice is heard for miles and miles, not a car, just the distant call of birds and the comic chatter of squirrels. I need to be here, so deep in the woods, so close to nothing in particular. I don’t need to be alone, but I need to feel close to the natural order of things for some reason.
I found only one morel today, an old one. I suspected the short morel season was already over and this confirmed it. As I unfolded my knife and cut the mushroom from the ground, I wondered if there were anything of significance farther down, any reason to dig hundreds or thousands of feet beneath that point. Then I looked up and saw only the sky, the clouds, and the glare of the sun that made me look away. Maybe there wasn’t anything up there either. Maybe it was just me kneeling on the damp earth, parting the wet, dead leaves with my bare hands and wiping them on my pants because I didn’t want to get my sweatshirt dirty because it was the one washed the day before. Maybe that was it. The solitude around me thickened like the moisture on the back of my neck. If a tree fell in the forest that day, I would have heard it.