“I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die discover that I had not lived.” ~Henry David Thoreau
When we went to cut down the tree last week, we actually had two permits and cut down two trees. We do that every year. In past years, we’ve cut down one tree for the living room and then one for the family room. This year, though, we decided to make a change. We would cut one big tree for our living room and a smaller tree that I would use to make garland and maybe wreaths. Why would I do this to myself, you ask? When I complain each and every year about how I simply try to get from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day without running away from home what with the season doubling my average workload, why would I decide that crafting some fresh, pine decorations would be a wise choice? I’ll tell you why. It’s because I’m certifiable. Always have been. Always will be. If it seems like it can be done, I will find a way to do it because I’m a loon who at some point unconsciously decided that sleep is overrated. I had a grand plan to save us a bunch of money by cutting down a $10 tree and sacrificing it for nostalgic greenery. A grand plan is all I ever need to get myself into trouble. My life is filled with grand plans.
Well, that “extra” tree had been resting near our front porch all week. Every time I opened the front door, I felt that tree judging me. Oh….you had such big plans. Yet, here I sit…waiting to be burned in next year’s fire pit. Shocking! Yes. This is what happens when I am sleep deprived. I see dead trees. Sometimes the dead trees talk to me. (I really should get more sleep.) I began to despise that obnoxious, sarcastic, negative spruce. And, as lazy and exhausted as I felt, I vowed to put a stop to its derision. So today I found my way over to Michael’s where, for approximately $20, I bought some wire, some wreath forms, and some pre-made holiday bows. I was going to do this thing and stop the tree voices.
In the waning hours of daylight as we approach the shortest day of the year, as the sun began to sink behind the hills, I stood in my backyard with a dead tree, pruning shears, and green wire. Me. The one who gets rashes hanging ornaments on a fresh tree because I happen to be allergic to trees. I tried something new. I created a wreath. I actually did it. After years of buying fresh, evergreen wreaths for our home, today I made one myself. Tomorrow I will create its twin. I will hang them around the lights on the garage to decorate our home festively for the holidays. Every time I come home I will look at them and be proud of myself. And, I will cross this task off my lifetime list of things to try my hand at. Okay. Okay. Making a wreath was never actually on my list of things to do in this lifetime, but I’ll put it on my list just to cross it off because it feels good to do something I’ve never done before. Crossing things off my lifetime list has become my pastime.
The older I get, the more important it’s become to me to try new things. There’s a sense of urgency in my life now that there wasn’t at 20. At 20, I thought I would live forever or, at least, it never crossed my mind that I would die. But, I will die and as I look at the moments of my life as I leave this place, I want to know that I made the most of my time here. I want to know that I loved, that I created, that I gave back, and that I did not always shy away from the experience of living in even the smallest way. My life is a work in progress and someday it will be halted by death. When it is, I really hope I’m in the middle of trying something new, sucking the marrow out of life even as the life is being sucked out of me.