There's some Chinese proverb I heard almost a year ago that says, 'The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time, is now.' I wish I could say why, exactly, this stuck with me, but it did. It occasionally leaps into my frontal lobe, and after a few times mulling the sentences over in my head, and rhetorically asking myself what it means to me, it's gone. I'm always somewhat pleased when it makes its way into my thoughts, as if, somewhere within the 25 seconds it spent rattling around in my head, I planted that tree.
You and I know that I didn't, but just the same, that quote pings my attention like a customer curiously peeking their head into your regular cafe. It's this bi-monthly meeting with my favorite Chinese proverb that servers as a reminder for me to plant the tree. And yet, the more I wrestle with the neurosis of how exactly to plant the tree, I come closer and closer to the conclusion that I've been planting some strange, incredibly ambiguous, nearly unrecognizable trees all along.
Back when I first heard it, I may have spent my first couple of hours (genuinely) investing time in myself, subsequently looking back on it and wondering what I'd done or who I'd done it for. Somewhere around the second time I was reminded of that proverb, I may have spent a couple of hours (genuinely) writing my first experimental, self-mandated writing prompt. Then, again, look back and kick myself for spending that time not planting a goddamn tree. Much to my chagrin, I'm already looking back, mere months later, and reaping rewards from the tree-planting ceremony I didn't even know I'd taken part in.
My hope is that this is a tree, although it's nearly impossible to say.