Saturday, May 4, 2013

Make Like a Tree and Leave

Barbara Walters once famously asked legendary actress Katharine Hepburn, “What kind of a tree are you?” She was subsequently mocked for posing such a juvenile question and its ridiculousness became the stuff of legend, even before things went viral. But now the rest of the story: Walters’ tree query was actually a follow-up to Hepburn saying how she was a tree or some such thing. And naturally, she was a very strong, very pretty oak tree. What else?

I thought about this blast from the past only because I stumbled upon an article about human beings and trees. Specifically, about how we can live on in our next incarnation as a tree or perennial plant of some sort. Yes, I can become a tree after I pass by having my cremated ashes placed in a biodegradable urn made of coconut shells. After adding the appropriate seed, compacted peat, and whatever other growing materials are required—Voilia!—I am a tree in the making as the nutrients of my ashes are absorbed into all of the above.

So, I can be eternal after all. Well, not quite. Said tree, first of all, has got to take root and grow. And if it does, the Tree Me will ultimately die at some point in the future. Pests might do me in, wild and woolly weather, or old age if I'm fortunate. It is nonetheless life after death—and a rather uplifting one at that—even if it is fleeting under the best of circumstances.

Now I can ponder Barbara Walters’ question for real and make like a tree and leave. This leafy green way to go—and the only avenue I know to live on for a little while at least—is certainly better than a boring tombstone, which hardly anyone will come to visit anyway. And I think I’d like to be—when all is said and done—a Weeping Willow, even if the species has little appeal to Walters. A tree grows in the Bronx. Who knows? Maybe someone will carve their initials in me.

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