Thursday, April 4, 2013

When I Was Seven

There was once an avocado tree in our front yard.   It was good for climbing.   A friend and I had rigged a line to raise and lower a box so we could bring things up.  It seemed a cool thing to do.

The line was not thick, but it was made of some kind of strong, green nylon material.  The color plays into the story.

One evening at dusk, a few of us were playing in the tree.  My favorite thing was standing on one large branch and jumping so that I could catch another, higher branch with my hands.  The high branch required a leap forward.  I was good at it.

That evening, someone had placed the line in a different spot from its usual place.  In that light, with a Miami lush background, the line was rather invisible.

I jumped, my foot caught the line, so I missed the branch, and the action of the line stopping my foot redirected me straight down.  I broke both the bones in my left wrist.  Clean break, no bones pierced through the skin.  It was obvious the bones snapped in two.

At the time, my father was too busy to help get the injury dealt with.  "You'll live", he quipped, half laughing.  "Get your mother to take you to Doc X".   OK.  That is what I did.  It hurt like crazy on the way there.  Not crying when I broke my arm was my major accomplishment in life to that point, so I thought.  Less fuel for stupid authority figures to make me feel worthless.

The ugly old nurse at the hospital was a bitch.  All else went fine.

Some time later, I came home from school to find that they'd chopped down the tree.  There may have been other reasons for it, but my father assumed I'd be thrilled; as if the tree had somehow harmed me.  I never thought that way.  Fortunately my mother did not raise me to blame objects when I ran into them or when they were otherwise involved in some unpleasant incident.  Odd that my father didn't know me well enough to know I would never have blamed that beloved tree.

Life often includes unpleasant events and surprises.  Wanting to exact justice often clouds reason to the point that we chop down innocent trees, forbid all kinds of activities and choices, as if that will forever save us from pain.

I guess my father was less unique in his indictment of various incidental objects than I thought.  The idea that a tragedy must be met by "doing something" is often an ill conceived notion which results in restrictions and burdens that do little to prevent bad things.  But people can pat themselves on the back, convincing one another that they "took action" and it is good and holy.  It is sick, and often has majority support.  That neither makes it sane, right, or reasonable.

I knew why I fell and broke my arm.  Fortunately no one insisted I not climb trees, or wear helmet and harness to do so.   It was one of many events in my life which taught me to pay a little closer attention to what I am doing.  Somehow it never made news, and I know nothing of statistics and studies related to tree climbing deaths and injuries.  Thank God.  I can only imagine how easily such an effort would lead to the state jailing parents if their kid decides to explore the tree tops.

This trend in public busy-body activity, fear, and insanity really must go.

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Ballistic Mountain, CA, United States
Like spring on a summer's day


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