Tuesday, March 15, 2011
There is a tree that I pass often in the bus on a long solitary stretch of the twisting mountain road that I travel to get to the communities that I work in. This tree is occasionally donning clothing – socks on its branches, shirts hanging on its limbs and shoes on the ground around it. I find it odd, ponder the meaning for only a few moments, conclude that it’s silly, and move on in my thoughts to other roadside distractions. Except that yesterday there were two dead dogs beneath the tree. I would not have known that they were dead if it weren’t for the big black buzzards pecking away at their seemingly sleeping bodies. They looked calm in their sleep and I half expected them to get up and jump at the scavengers to chase them away. But they didn’t. They continued on in their sleep with the socks swaying slightly in the breeze in the branches above them. My original reaction was melancholy and a sense of the inevitability and sheer loneliness of death. It made me sad that two once-living beings, who were still fresh on the other side, who still had their spots and their fur and their teeth and their bones connected by flesh and cartilage, were unceremoniously being picked apart by the big black beasts as if instead of a once-sacred life force they were reduced to being the free-box at a yard sale in a poor neighborhood. But why does the passing of life always make humans uncomfortable? It’s strange that we should have such a stigma against it when it is the predictable outcome of all life on a long enough timeline. And why would I care that the bodies were under the sock-tree being eaten by birds? The dogs were probably hit by passing vehicles and dragged off of the road to continue their eventual decomposition under a tree that just so happens to have a clothing fetish. Is that so strange? Not really. The cycle continues. Whether we want it to or not. Whether we write about it or not. Whether we think about it, or talk about it, or give it permission. And so, I have concluded, that when I die, be it tomorrow, or the next day, or when I’m one hundred and two, I want it to be known, that I would like to be recycled in a similar manner. The tree doesn’t have a dress-code - its own bark and leaves will do just fine. It doesn’t need to be in Nicaragua necessarily, or indeed any particular place. I would only like to request that I be dragged of the beaten path, be it a road, or a bed, and laid to rest on my unceremonious, above-ground grave plot to let the buzzards bury me in their hungry bellies.