I have a long history of poking at the puffed up, self-important denizens of the blogosphere. I don’t often do it, but I do it. There is just something about the sound that I can hear in my mind when people start to pontificate and/or spout nonsense. I’m no expert at this thing we all try to do. I’ve had some soaring high points and some devastating crashes. Probably, I should have garnered some bits of understanding from all of that, but honestly, I am pretty darned sure that, if I were given the chance to do it all again, I would. Don’t look here for expertise. Ever.
Knowing what I know about what I do not know, I am, perhaps, hyper-sensitive when others present themselves as knowing how it all works, or having the secrets to success. That sort of thing just perks my antennae up and sets them quivering.
So, yeah. I threw down with Kaya. THE Kaya. Just as I once did with Patti, and in a less flamboyant way with Sara, I called “bullshit.” Predictably, she came roaring back, insisting that “she is only talking about HER relationship (never mind that what she actually wrote surely SOUNDS like she’s got it figured out for the whole bunch of us). I’m not at all concerned that her feelings are hurt here. It has been a long time since I believed that kaya actually cared about me or my life, and she confirms that, stating: “I don’t care. Truly. Not to sound callous but I have enough trouble keeping my own relationship running. I don’t have the energy to worry about yours.” (italics are mine.)
Interesting. Except that, she then goes on to a very odd little riff about being a “plant,” that seems to clearly indicate that she really does “care:”“A plant is going to wilt if you don’t water it, no matter how badly it wants to stay perky. I suppose one could berate the plant for wilting, for all the good that will do. It’s still gonna wilt.
You could determine the plant is not worthy of being a plant because it wilts- but it’s still gonna wilt.
You could decide the plant was an uppity cunt of a plant for needing to be watered- but it’s still gonna wilt.
You could mock the plant for being sad that it has no water- and it’s *still* going to wilt.
Maybe you’re just a prickly cactus that doesn’t need water and I? I am a ficus.”
Sort of funny, that. Kaya does have that amazing funny way about her. It can be endearing. No wonder so many, including me, find her writing compelling. Yes. Me. I read her regularly. I’ve done it for years. Knowing that she “doesn’t care,” and does not value that long-standing readership, I still read. After all, there are plenty of writers that put out words I appreciate with whom I have no one-to-one relationship. So…
I can be prickly. It is true. So, maybe that characterization is fair at some level. Although, coming from one who prides herself on her capacity for snark, I find it a bit disingenuous. But never mind. I actually think I am less like the cactus than like an ancient oak. And so, I found myself thinking about that “tree” analogy as it relates to how one approaches the “bottom” side of the power-based relationship dynamic…
Take kaya’s ficus, for example: Ficus plants range from large trees to woody shrubs to trailing vines. All grow best in medium to bright light, although they will tolerate low light for short periods.
Ficus varieties are often chosen by those who are just beginning to learn the art of bonsai. They are easy to grow, however they are very tender, not hardy at all. A ficus needs to be kept in a bright window, away from heat sources and cold drafts. Big temperature fluctuations cause them to drop their leaves due to stress. You have to manage the humidity around a ficus. With bonsai, you may need to put a tray of water under the pot, but even then, the bonsai must be raised above the water line. You can’t have the bonsai’s “feet” in the water! The humidity tray needs to be kept topped up so that the moisture will rise up through the leaves of the tree. Even then, it is advisable to mist your ficus with filtered water occasionally. Water it regularly, keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged. These trees need to be re-potted every 2-3 years, and fertilized weekly throughout the entire active growth season. A ficus is a lot of work. Which, perhaps, was exactly kaya’s point in making the comparison between herself and this very high maintenance houseplant.
An oak, on the other hand, is a tree or shrub -- one of about 600 known species. Oaks are found from cool temperate climates to the tropics in the Americas and in Asia. Oak wood is very dense, very strong, and very hard. It makes beautiful, durable lumber which has been prized for everything from shipbuilding to the crafting of fine furniture.
At the beginning of an oak's life, when an acorn first sprouts, most of its energy is spent on root development, with little growth above ground. The initial root is the taproot, which grows deep underground, seeking a dependable supply of water. Soon the taproot is surpassed by an extensive root system spreading horizontally. This lateral mass of roots will bring the tree moisture and nutrients for its lifetime. Most oak tree roots lie only 18 inches under the soil. They may spread, though, to occupy a space four to seven times the width of the tree's crown. Oak trees have sturdy foundations.
The oak is a common symbol of strength and endurance. Many nations use the oak as a symbol. Even our U.S. military uses the oak leaf cluster to denote bravery and valor.
The Greeks held that the oak was the sacred tree of Zeus, and in Celtic polytheistic spirituality, the word for oak was part of the word for “druid,” an adjective for “strong” or “firm.” The Indo-Europeans connected the oak tree with a god of thunder or lightning, and there have been scientific studies that show that oaks are more likely to be struck by lightning than any other tree of the same height. Maybe that explains my propensity for getting smacked by powerful forces…
Mistletoe grows in the high branches of oak trees too -- that parasitic plant that we all associate with kisses and love.
Oaks grow to be very large and very old. The Jurupa Oak tree of California is thought to be the oldest living thing on the planet at some 13,000 years.
So, yeah. Oak tree. If we are going to choose up plants to stand in for who and how we are in our lives and our relationships, I will go with ancient oak.