It’s that wonderful time. Again.
It’s the time where pine trees have been bred for. Like turkeys for Thanksgiving. I’m imagining this breeding occurred on a vast piece of land. Maybe a little slopey. With rows and rows of measured out distances between each small baby born pine, checking out its brother, sister or cousin next to him, as it slowly rises above the darkish, plowed, brown soil growing up towards a continuously grey and industrial sky.
It must be pretty confusing growing up there. Hearing myth like tales of you going to a place in the future where you’re going to be the center of attention, dressed up amazingly with vibrant colors, surrounded by gifts and gifts, shining a light in the darkness of the lives of others. The grown-ups seem to be excited for the future that lies ahead, knowing that their time to be taken to the better place is coming.
But at the same time, you are skeptical. Recognizing on the way up that you are being bred for this single purpose. And as you might have figured out through some broader pine education, being bred for a single purpose usually doesn’t end well for the bred’ren.
This confusion might make you somewhat anxious, touchy and prickly. It steers your intelligence towards trying to figure out what the future might hold. What this purpose actually entails. And more importantly, what happens when the purpose has been fulfilled.
Each year is intellectually numbing. The only thing the other pines talk about is trying to figure out which pines will get taken that year. They place bets and argue endlessly whether Ol’ Willy will finally have his turn or which small fat kid of a pine is the lucky one. Since obesity among young pines is rewarded by the choosers. After the annual Pick, the pines jump to a second annoying topic for a whole month, where they in hindsight preach to each other why precisely those pines were taken. As if it was the most logical thing that happened and they knew it all along.
And then, they start anew. Analyzing and judging pines with the crappy accuracy and persuasive pseudo science talk of a sports commentator.
The boredom combined with the existential angst makes you touchy. Neuroticism is clearly there. And because no one seems to understand your sentiment towards the others, it makes you quite introverted, daydreaming away, with feelings of loneliness even though you’re constantly surrounded by family and so called friends.
Sometimes you fear the Pick is coming your way. Other years you wish you were just taken out of here, to just get away from all of this, no matter what the horrible consequence might be. Because it couldn’t be any more horrible than the prospect of staying.
But, you weren’t picked. And the confusion sat in again. For on the one hand you’re disappointed and on the other relieved that it wasn’t you yet.
Nevertheless, in the year you’d became bitter and resentful, when you didn’t care anymore if you’d be picked or slowly withered and died like Ol’ Willy had a few years ago, you got picked.
It wasn’t how you thought it was. The picking itself wasn’t gentle. It was rough and without consideration. Roots were being cut off, some of the outer and broadest grown branches, the ones you were most proud of when you still had some feelings of pride were clipped. And before you knew it you were flung in this weird contraption that put a net around you ever so tightly. Your beautifully grown, broad branched-out self was now constricted in this tight white net. A label was put around your neck. You were flung in a truck, lying on top of some distant cousin that cried like a baby, screaming he was going to be turned into toiletpaper.
You ignored the cries. But without any sense of control, some moments you felt a rush of panic that fortunately subsided again with the same fast pace as it came about.
Now surrounded by these same distant cousins and also other pine strangers you are standing there, on some concrete parking lot, where droves of cars and humans go in and out sometimes taking one of you away, flinging them in a car or on top of them, securing them with ropes.
Some human looked at you, touched you, and asked some other human if he could see you without the net. The human obliged and for a few moments you were out of that suffocating contraption. The spectator nodded and you were again put through that awful machine that put the net on again.
You were loaded up in a pickup truck. The drive wasn’t that long. And you were carried into this brick and mortar building with human infants cheering at the human carrying you. The net opened up. And you were hoisted up in this kind of pedestal with your trunk in it.
And to your surprise the myths were actually right all along. Not exactly in the way you thought it would. But you could see that in real life there were these resemblances. Balls in different colors, some green cords with see-through glass things on top and necklaces of shiny metallic substance were swung around you and hanging on your branches. A shiny red spike, was put on your top like some sort of crown. Not long after, the see through-glass things on the green cords were ignited and light was shining from you now.
But, instead of feeling like some sort of king or savior like the myths foretold, you felt a bit like a small-lights-shining, sparkling balls wearing moron. It was uncomfortable too.
When the humans went away some time after dark, they put the lights out. And you felt this loneliness come over you. Although the silence of not having those little humans screaming around was better, it didn’t comfort. You thought back to the days where the other pines were babbling about. You didn’t want to confess it, but you actually missed them.
Days passed. The amount of gifts around you got a bit larger. The days got a bit shorter still. The music that was being played out of some machine was more and more the same. You started to recognize it. Boring music as well. All had sounds of bells in them. Annoying.
One day the humans multiplied in the room you were in. They were eating and laughing all through the evening. Some pointed at you and uttered some things, which seemed to make the other humans you had seen more often proud or something. Other types of trees were burning in a small fire. Their leaves or needles had been stripped some time before. How sad indeed.
You weren’t feeling proud at all with that garment. This whole situation was very degenerating. Your needles were falling out, because of the thirst you had. How you longed to be outside. In the outdoors. With your roots in some soft, brown, mushy soil, with grey skies above you and pine trees all around.
One night a mad kind of thunder like you’ve never heard was going on. The humans were excited in the evening. And flashes from outside turned green, blue, purple, red and yellow. Chills went up your trunk.
The next day the humans arrived later than usual. The taller humans seemed somewhat blue. The smaller humans were playing with things that were in the gifts before. All of a sudden they were stripping the balls and lights from your branches. They even loosened the thing your trunk was in. Thank god! Maybe now you will go to the better place after all. The hope was there, but a small gnawing feeling lingered.
That feeling of joy vanished in a blink of an eye, when you were tossed out on to the pavement. Where some small humans took you away in a small cart with other pine trees. You were somewhat glad to see those other pine fellows, but they weren’t looking so good. They lost at least a quarter of their needles. A few more than half. Now looking at yourself, you could see you weren’t in the best shape either. In fact, you looked horrible.
Where were they taken you, you asked? Some of the pines were surprisingly optimistic, enchanted really, panting that this is it. That this is what the myths were telling all along. You all would go to the better place. Now you would truly shine a bright light. You noticed they looked bewildered and delusional. You kept an open mind.
When then, turning around the corner, like lightning you were struck with a fear you had never felt, seeing the absolute horror unfolding before your eyes. They were right. But not in the way they or you had hoped for them to be right.
This was it. The fear remarkably subsided and made way for acceptance. Even though you clearly hated the humans, even though you concluded that life with a single purpose was meaningless after all, even though the screams of agony and pain the other pines endured and you would too very shortly you accepted the fact that death is as part of life as living itself. That despite the meaninglessness, despite the sadness of a somewhat denigrating, sadistic and painful final period of your life, you can try to be as bright as you can.
So there you went up in a sea of flames. No screams. Just a silent and shining bright acceptance of death.