Fructiferous. He said it didn’t exist. That word: Fructiferous.
He was a seasoned editor, and who was I? But deep down I knew it did. Watching now the fruit-bearing tree in front of me weather a storm of bad news I, too, feel particularly fructiferous. My mind ventures out freely to catch whatever train of thought it feels like riding without abruptly being called back to the station by an annoying conductor named ASAP.
I haven’t had time to process all of this, I found myself saying a lot. It was a lie. Time was not the issue. The speed at which information about COVID-19 kept sprouting, paired with my desire to devour it with equal tempo, was. It had to stop. Selective ignorance is bliss and I had practiced it to a degree in the past, but I knew I could do better. The current mushy state of the substance making up my brain told me now was a good time to test that theory.
To fill the space previously allocated to chasing headlines and virtual window shopping, I have inexplicably turned to our mango tree. As of late, it has become my favorite symbol of resilience, a pillar holding my community of emotions in place, a perfect sanctuary stopping my surroundings and I from affecting each other too much. To those looking for a sign of logical order, unwavering support, and no nonsense, this is the tree for you. Correction: This is MY tree. You can get your own.
Each leaf of my modest obelisk is an attentive listening ear that perks up at the sound of my voice. There goes one and another one and another one. I mourn the occasional loss –inevitable as it may be in these windy days. Most fall with ethereal elegance. Others bounce around as if its siblings had quickly weaved an improvised blanket to block the clear path toward the ground. At best, the descent gets delayed. They reach the floor anyway.
I like to think their fluttering sound is a chant exonerating me from the guilt of not being productive enough. Maybe this essay is proof that the guilt has won, or maybe I just want to remember a time when peace shape-shifted into a forgotten tree.
If I could plant a flag declaring this state of mind my land, I would. I would stab the soil with that flag as strong as I could. I would plant it so deep in the ground the sun’s rays would not touch it after all. I would make sure the healthy roots were not stressed while tucking them away with the most excellent soil until there were no air pockets left. But there is no seed for what I’m describing. The description itself will have to stand as a roadmap, a portal allowing a potential return to this place. That is, assuming I can find my way back.
I am not looking forward to busy days again. Second lie. I am looking forward to restoring my personal brand of madness; one that transpires amid everyone else’s variety of madness. I don’t want to be alone in recovering a self-imposed pace I resented many times but now crave. I want us all to go back to being super-busy and to whining because of it. I want a moment of silence that is not associated with death. My tree provides that, for now.
I never cared much for it, not even in those months when it finally delivered its small juicy treasures. I don’t like mangoes, so I saw no benefit to it. Now it feels like I can’t live without it. I can hardly stand to see its dried limbs (mea culpa also) and wouldn’t blame it if one day it packed its foliage into a compact carry-on and left me. Nobody should put up with this kind of treatment. Not even a tree. I tell it it can leave me any day but now.
Admittedly, my days haven’t changed much. I’m an introvert. Retreating into a cocoon is my default mood, but I still like to have options I can pretend to exercise. And I have chosen this tree. I have anchored my matutinal sanity to its waist and don’t dare imagine the consequences if one morning, a gaping hole was smiling at me instead of it. This is not a particularly good time to befriend a well and if I managed to do so, I wouldn’t feel the same. Descartes’ famous proclamation wouldn’t be an assertion at all. In my case, “therefore I am” won’t crown “I think” unless the latter is immediately followed by “near this mango tree.”
I have considered circling its body several times like a great white shark preying on good luck, but this isn’t that type of tree and sharks have it pretty good as it is. Besides, its position is such that the neighbor’s fence prevents a full 360-degree walk. What kind of luck would a 270-degree ritual afford me? Better not risk it. I have been lucky thus far.
I still have a job and nobody dear to me has fallen ill with this thing. I have made it this far, fructiferous or not.