‘In the shadows of the burnt tree’

Op een ochtend werd ik wakker en met een voet nog in dromenland kreeg ik ineens een idee voor een verhaal. Ik haalde mijn laptop en op een golf van inspiratie schreef ik het verhaal. In het Engels, want met die woorden kon ik op dat moment precies uitdrukken wat ik wilde zeggen. Dit is dat verhaal:

There once were two birds who landed in the same tree at the same time. They quickly fell in love and built a nest together. They laid two eggs in the nest, and out of them grew a girl and a boy. The family was content, and the children grew up safely. After a while, the love birds started to invite other birds into their tree.

They had some fun all together until a storm hit the tree. Everything was shaking, the children were scared, and mama bird got confused and lost her way in her own tree. Papa bird found other birds to hold on to and eventually he fell in love with one of the other birds. He wanted to fly away with this bird, but he didn’t want to leave his family behind.

The storm and all the confusion caused the tree to catch fire. In the blazing heat the tree was reduced to a dead stump with blackened branches. All life was gone. Papa bird flew to safety to a nearby tree with his new love. Mama bird fell to the ground and lost all her feathers. Naked and cold she still tried to protect her kids.

She hardly had the strength to stand up straight. She looked up to the giant, black tree that was once her safe home. And in its shadow, she started to crawl away from it. Every other week papa bird flew over to pick up the kids. Mama bird was no longer a bird. She was alone and in her human form. Naked and weak but grounded, firmly on the earth.

Time passed by and she got used to her new life on the ground. With hands and feet instead of wings. With clothes instead of feathers. She found freedom in the absence of her children. Yes freedom, as well as deafening silence and emptiness. She lived her life in the shadows of the burnt tree. Everything around her was covered in it, touched by it.

However, when she moved further away from the tree, the shadow became less intense. She was now living in the shadow of the branches, rather than the trunks. And through the burnt branches of the blackened tree, she saw light. She felt it on her skin, she squinted her eyes to look at it. Yes, behind that tree was an eternal source of light.

If there was light on the other side of the tree, it must mean that the world was bigger than her place in the shadows. She knew of other trees but now she was no longer a bird she was no longer interested in a new tree. She started to explore the grounds around the tree and moved further and further away from it.

And one day she wanted to know the source of the light that cast the shadow she was so familiar with. She walked around the tree and looked up. She looked straight into the light and saw herself. Her true self, in her true form. Tall and strong, bright and loving.

And she knew that if she could see life from that perspective the tree would just be a little, black dot on an enormous, colorful canvas that was her life. And the shadow that she had been living in for so long was just a little grey brushstroke. It was all part of the canvas, and it was exactly as it should be.