There are no instructions for navigating collective trauma, this pandemic, or anything that has upended our happier, more vibrant times. We are winging it and a lot of what we’ve been giving off in the process has been dire, harsh, spiteful, judgmental— often rooted in heartbreak, anger, uncertainty, and shame. Our branches in this season are honestly pretty weak, and for some, downright bad… we’ve literally cursed everybody out. Under these circumstances, we are unlikely to bear optimal fruit.
It’s unimaginable that a single year could’ve had this many blows. I don’t know about you, but it seems, no matter how strong my upright stance, I still manage to catch a hook, jab, or uppercut. This year has left me with cuts and bruises I’ll never forget, war wounds that’ll take a lifetime to heal, and dead limbs. Lots of lifeless limbs to prune.
Can I just say that we all need to do some heavy pruning.
I know that once we get rid of this straggly growth and reconnect with our sanctuaries inside… Once we get our power restored— our lights back on… Once our world opens and we see each others’ big beautiful smiles again, we will find ourselves appreciating this strange and strenuous voyage. Like life after pruning, we will be more sound— our harsh branches, less invasive.
Hopefully, we will be wise enough to recognize our mistakes, and brave enough to name them.
Maybe we will come to realize how all these tiny, thorny, hurtful plants manifested into disdainful trees and resentful forests. Times are absolutely hard, but they are also ripe. If we are true planters— sowers— if we can imagine the harvest ahead, then we must continue to go through this pruning season.
Soon we will be standing, shears and all, trimmed and enlightened— surveying our scorched earth and tending to injuries we didn’t even know were there.
When the green returns, we will see, with new eyes, our fruit— our miracles and blessings— all the unnecessary branches we pruned back and how selective we were in doing so… We will wonder how we managed to go through all of that and come out in tact, safe and sound.
Dying trees can be revived.
Clinnesha is a wife, mom, daughter/sister/auntie, literary artist, humanities scholar, and social entrepreneur. Her advocacy work is at the intersection of black/feminist thought, arts, culture, and community.