As I sat on my porch this evening watching a rare torrential downpour fall on my town, I momentarily connected with the oak tree twenty feet in front of me, standing majestically over the manicured yard, surely too enjoying the rain.
Hello, Tree. We are none too different, for we both enjoy rain.
The tree said nothing, as trees are apt to do.
You were planted here, Tree, by no choice of your own. But alas here you reside. This is your home. I, too, was planted here. One might say, unlike you, I moved of my own free will, but perhaps that will was an illusion. Like you, I was planted here by a series of chance circumstances beyond my control. And here we are, staring at each other, sharing the same thunderhead.
Again, the tree said nothing.
You are my closest neighbor, Tree.
It occurred to me then that the tree would not mind if I moved away, and yet I would be deeply saddened if the tree were cut down.
So then who is the more powerful? The tree, at whose mercy I am, or I, to which the tree is indifferent?
Surely Man is greater than Tree. I could always cut the tree down, but the tree could do little to harm me, at least intentionally. And yet, if such were to occur, perhaps I would kneel, sobbing, clutching the tree’s dismembered branches, as if a crime of unforgivable passion had unfolded, cold sap draining from its lifeless limbs onto my guilty fingers, screaming, “Oh Lord, have mercy!”s and, “What have I done?!”s and so on and so forth until my neighbors come out confused and my landlady calls the police on a tenant gone mad.
And yet, if this tree lost a branch whilst I stood beneath it, and the branch happened to strike me in the head and break my neck? The tree would feel nothing.
And so, Tree, in the timeless war between love and power, though armed with the weapons of cold indifference, who is mightier: the passionate or the disinterested?
The tree did not respond.
I felt cold, so I went inside. The rain continued without me. I have dishes to do and a carpet to vacuum. There is no longer time for petty squabbles with unsavory neighbors.