How I Became a Redwood Tree | Teen Ink

How I Became a Redwood Tree

June 25, 2022
By jordybrandman BRONZE, Roslyn, New York
jordybrandman BRONZE, Roslyn, New York
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

You are the reason I am breathing. You have given, I have taken. It is because of you; my perfect soil moisture, my ideal temperature condition, that I have grown. If I know what love is, it is because of you. Anything below my minimum temperature would damage me–make my coat go cold, my plumule go dim. But you. You are my optimal temperature–the reason why I thrive. Once, there was a seed; no, once there was a girl. This little girl was able to germinate: no, flourish. And it is because of you that she not only blossoms, but loves. She knew of love ever since she was brought into this world. Why? Well, because she was given love. She was surrounded by love. Love is the reason she is who she is today, a young woman who comprehends love as a nutrient: what we need to survive and what we need for our ‘seed coats’ to crack open.

From the moment we are born, we have so much potential. But whether we grow up to be a wolffia flower or a redwood tree all depends upon who is tending to us and our needs. Who is the one who will bring the sunshine into the darkest places? Who is the one who will push us when no one else will? And who is the one who will pick up our pieces even at risk of the broken glass? The answer is simple; tis the one who loves us. Perhaps a soul mate? A friend? Maybe. But the reason why I am a redwood is because of the tender care of my mother’s love: a love so powerful, a love that explains why I am so easily able to understand a concept so complex.

Life is an uphill battle, but whether or not you look good when you climb all depends on who is pushing you when you need it most. Now that is true love. Love is not built on lies, not telling someone what they want to hear; rather, love is embracing someone for all of who they are. The reason I know this is because love has been evidently layed out for me from the millisecond I was born. I am lucky. No, I am actually the luckiest redwood in all the world. While the others are focusing on love “primarily as that of being loved, rather than of loving,” I never had to worry about being loved; I have someone whose love for me has kept my roots stable, my branches far from bare, and my leaves as green as jade (Fromm) The love I have been given has allowed me to commit the act of loving: an act unfathomable to many. During the wintertime, I do not have to worry about my branches becoming bare or my leaves beginning to leave me. My producer has helped me to understand that losing my leaves is essential; I retain more water during this time, I need less energy to stay alive...I grow.

Love is defined by the distinction between sacrificing for one’s own personal gain and sacrificing for the sake of another’s. Psychologist Abraham Maslow asserts that our life is an upward climb: each step essential to reach the next. Basic physiological needs must be met before you can love, for instance. According to Maslow, “As long as the body feels substantially deprived, it marshals all its energies in the service of satisfying these demands” (Maslow). Though applicable to some, this statement does not concern my mother: no, my keeper. Sixteen years ago, her own desires and biological needs were suddenly unimportant: suddenly ready to be sacrificed. In direct opposition to Maslow, my mother’s love is so powerful that it replaces the importance of her simple physiological needs. I get home late at night; she is awake and says, “I had to make sure you were safe.” I forget to order dinner; she gives me hers and says, “Don’t worry, I am not hungry.” I do not bring my jacket; she takes the one off her back and says, “I am not cold anyway.” I get in an accident; she sits by me and says, “I would cut off both my arms just so I can feel your pain...” Next time you want to make a generalization about love, think a little harder Maslow; think about the extremity to which a mama bear will go to ensure the safety and happiness of her cubs. I know that if I were to ever really be freezing, or starving, or mom would always put these needs before her own.

I did not just become a redwood because my producer put my needs before hers; in fact, I would probably still only be a few feet tall if this were the case. What I have mastered over the last sixteen years is the concept of tough love: one of the most difficult, but important factors in understanding what love really is. We do not flourish when people solely try to protect us from hurt; this is not love. We flourish when people push us to reach our full potential, even when we might face adversity in the process; this is love. I hear, “At the next audition, you better give them more of what they want” or “Those careless mistakes have got to stop,” and I don’t just listen. I act. I act because I know my mother’s love for me is so deep: everything she says that may seem harsh is only to build my strength, my character and to help me grow. While sacrifice and selflessness are surely the water and light conditions needed to germinate, tough love is indeed, not only the oxygen we need to survive, but the perfect soil moisture that enables us to gain strength.

Love is a nutrient: what we need to survive and what we need for our ‘seed coats’ to crack open. However, the goal in life is not just for our seed coats to crack open; rather, we should be working toward growing that seed into the biggest possible redwood tree it can be. No, not just a redwood tree, but one with the greenest leaves, and the strongest roots, and the longest branches. It all comes down to who is providing us with the love that creates and sustains and harvests these things. Love is a nutrient; and if you’re as lucky as I am, then you will somedaylearn that “love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get – only with what you are expecting to give – which is everything” (Popova). You may still be wondering exactly what love is. I guess you just have to ask yourself, ‘Who is there to ensure that your emerald leaves never fade?’

The author's comments:

My definition of love: my mother is my hero. 

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