Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.
— Soren Kierkegaard
It seems to me that a human life is like a tree,
but lived in reverse.
As children, we are as bright green leaves,
fragile miracles, proof of the perenniality of life,
playfully dancing on the wind,
eagerly and indiscriminately soaking up
the abundance of the world,
holding onto life only by virtue of the strength of our parents,
drawing sustenance from roots
whose depths we cannot fathom.
In our adolescence, we are like twigs,
still green with youth,
taking on the form, but not yet the substance, of our parents,
bending to every breeze,
yet straining to grow into something more solid.
In our early adulthood, we are as the branches of the tree,
still somewhat pliable,
but with thicker skin,
stretched between the generation of our children
and the generation of our parents,
drawing nourishment from both, leaf and trunk,
and giving nourishment to both.
In late adulthood, we are like the trunk of the tree,
sturdy like tradition,
bending only to the greatest events in history,
holding the scattered branches of the generations together,
feeling the closeness of the earth
and those who lie beneath it.
And when we die, we pass beneath the earth,
no longer seen and no longer seeing,
we pass from thick roots to fine root hairs,
remembered for a time, and then barely, and then not,
but continuing always to nourish the tree,
from the sturdy trunk to the least of the tender leaves.