Unchaining a Tree

Someone told me that writer’s block is basically the imaginary friend not willing to talk to the writer. If this is the case I think I lost mine, or perhaps he wandered off to a land where writing is as effortless as a waterfall or a sunrise.  And this post is my call, my ode and my plea for his mercy to come back to me.

Every morning I take a 30-minute bus drive to work, through a freeway which is mostly surrounded by trees with little or no buildings of any sort. It is very calming journey. Except the humming sound of the bus, there is no other noise. In fact, it is kind of soothing to travel with that sound, it makes no sense and forms a background music to my thoughts. Morning sun plays with shadows on the floor and people are usually quiet, either scrolling through their phone or sleeping. 

On these journeys, I either meditate, read or simply gaze through the window on the passing by sight with contemplation. I also make mental notes on the changes to the landscape, like a construction of new connecting road or renovations. Singapore is quite advanced when it comes to planning the city and roads. It is too perfect that sometimes I feel like I am taking a ride in the amusement park which starts and stops at the flick of a switch.

Coming back to the constructions, I often see sudden array of trees, either on the sides or on the middle section of the new road. They are grown elsewhere and planted as trees with logs and wires to stop them from falling off until they take roots in the new place.  I often felt sad for them, it is like they have been misplaced and weren’t supposed to be there, yet cruelly chained to be there. I often felt like taking a chain saw and unchaining each of them by force.

They kind of remind me of my life as a foreigner.  Grown elsewhere and suddenly thrown in to the environment where I don’t have the roots to support myself from falling off. Except there were no supporting logs or wires to keep me standing. I had to find my own support network.  My new friends appeared to be my support system as I spent most of my time with them, and my relationships back home often felt nonexistent or unavailable.  And no amount of skype calls or messages enabled me to revive that feeling of being with each other. 

One mistake which I have made and I think most of people at my situation make is, considering every passing by person as friend or family or both.  These relationships are often transitory and tend to be seasonal as per the objectives of the both parties. These relationships thrive on partying or having fun and often lack the depth of understanding, which is essential for strong bonds.   

Trust me, I am not writing off all relationships with sweeping miss judgement. There are wonderful exceptions, people who are life’s blessings and these people happens to us whether we make conscious effort or not.  They will teach us all the reasons to trust and to be more open in life. They are like the sun and water for these grown trees, essential and life affirming. 

Today I saw one such tree, however this one has grown out of the wires and logs. The chains were broken and logs seem to have given up their hold on the tree. Not only the tree is stronger, there are also birds living on its branch now.  And it occurred to me like a flick of switch that we need those adversities, those terrible experiences from unworthy relationships. Because that’s what makes us stronger and that’s what makes us appreciate the sun and the water we are blessed with.  And that’s how we grow our roots and unchain ourselves. 


Ramesh said…
Welcome back to this space after many months.

A poignant post. Yes indeed, this is a common feeling amongst those of us who have chosen to live elsewhere. Slowly that place becomes home and the erstwhile home becomes a foreign land. New relationships replace those old ones. Some good, some not so good.

That's the way of life my friend. But then once in a while look back wistfully as you have done.

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