The Bushes

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The bushes are planted neatly in symmetrical rows, tracing almost every house in the neighborhood, including my own. Sitting here upon my front porch on a quiet Sunday afternoon, I see them. I realize that my front yard, much less any other suburban yard, can hardly be called nature; it’s a whittled down version: green, sterile patches of grass isolated between endless columns of houses. An obvious toll of urbanization upon wilderness is present here. Nonetheless, I still see them, and they are a part of my nature.

Staring at one of their forms for some time, I begin to take notice of its shape and immediate surroundings. This particular bush is rather squatty and ordinary. Stump weathered and gouged, all texture is camouflaged from far way by the tan pigment. At close range, fissures and niches are easily seen. Stems bound outward, each one layered in a growth of bristly needles. Press a finger hard enough against one and blood can be drawn. An unruly mess of dried leaves top the bush –winded deposits of plant life slain by the creeping chill of autumn. Weeds heckle the bush’s solitary existence amid the bedrock. Like parasites, white clouds and yellow eyesores sprout up through the cracks.

This is what I see as I lounge upon my front porch on a November afternoon, but I find myself pondering less on the physical here and now and connecting more with the hypothetical: thinking of what could and will happen to not only this bush, but bushes of all sorts.

Bushes are maimed by blades and hired hands, forced into cookie-cutter conformity. They remain stoic, all the while, as outsiders chop off their leaves and limbs against internal protest. Stripped of their identity, they no longer resemble bushes at all, but square, identical hedges, meaningless tributes to a higher ideal of “vanity.”

Bushes are indirect targets to many forces of nature, much like innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire. They are affected by the flighty mood of the wind. Gentle breezes bring quiet mocking, and angry jet streams leave them whipped and battered. Could they talk, the bushes’ message would often be silenced by the piercing pitch of the wind’s howl. Torrents of rain stomp down upon the delicate leaves of bushes, nearly drowning them. When the worst is over, the bushes are left humiliated, drenched and bowing under an overload of water. One could never separate the dripping of excess moisture from the tears of the bushes’ own suffering.

I ponder on all of these logical possibilities, and I arrive at the thought that perhaps humans, with all of their technology and intellect, are not so unlike other beings of nature. Humans are fragile, intricate creatures, as are bushes and other life forms. So effortlessly, they are pushed around by external forces, and they sternly endure until they fall, unable to absorb the prodding any longer. Some may tumble and stand right back up (and mindlessly repeat the same draining process), while others crash, too damaged by the impact.

The world, in its simplest truth, revolves around the survival of the fittest. But that does not mean that all humankind should hide their weakness behind a façade in phobia of failure. A bush is beaten, a bush is cut down, yet still it manages to survive, despite an uneven match at times. A bush is seen in all its weakness and in all its prime. Its struggles and triumphs are made known to the world, underlining the beauty and preciousness of its existence. Why should humans not do the same? With speech, thought, and feeling, how is it that they cannot so fluently express emotion?

Humans too, are beaten, are cut down, yet they hide in fear, and allow shame to forbid them from ever regaining misplaced glory. Instead, they carry on with their prescription brand of stoicism and self-denial, a costly buffer against the paranoia of losing. They do so until they become almost as bitter and unfeeling as some of the very parts of nature.

Sitting upon my front porch on a chilly Sunday afternoon, this is what I see.





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