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POV: Timber.

POV ("point of view") is a series that addresses many of the same themes covered in my Equals Record column: growing up, saying yes to adventure, learning to embrace a quarter-life crisis. Each POV entry will include a photograph and a short reflection based on what’s pictured. While my previous column focused largely on ideas, POV focuses on moments - glimpses, glances, tiny stories. 


One afternoon, while living on a farm in New Zealand years ago, I was standing in the middle of a field in rain boots, chicken feed in hand. All was still. Then, suddenly, there was rustling. Then, a crack. Then, in one stunning, staggering moment, a tree fell. 

It was tall and thick and had heavy branches that hung low to the ground, and when it fell it made the sort of spectacular tree-falling sound I’d heard only in movies about the destruction of the rainforest.

I looked around, wondering whether anyone had seen. But no one was there. Goats that had been grazing nearby flicked their tails and stepped to the side, their eyes darting only briefly skyward. 
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When this happened, I was midway through a month-long WWOOFing journey, farm-hopping on the country’s North Island in exchange for meals and a place to sleep. I was also twenty-three and at a crossroads. An important relationship in my life was ending. I was unsure of what kind of work to pursue, or whether to stay in LA or move to San Francisco (in the end, of course, I did neither of those things). In New Zealand, I was on my own and learning new things every day. Still, I occasionally wondered whether the trip was just a very expensive way of stalling.

As my time there went on, I became no stranger to fallen trees. One day, shortly after I arrived at a small family farm in Ahuroa, I spent hours combing the property with a wheelbarrow, picking up branches that had fallen in a storm. I don’t remember much about that day except that the branches were heavy - shockingly heavy - and that they required both hands to lift. 

Years later, I’d stumble upon photos of windswept trees on the southernmost tip of New Zealand and feel surprisingly emotional. They’d encountered some sort of storm. And though they’d bent, they’d yet to buckle.

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This past Tuesday, I spent the afternoon in the park. It was 65 degrees, which, after weeks of temperatures in the 20s and 30s, felt as warm as peak summer. My friends and I joked about posting a photo of ourselves on Instagram, smiling in the sun. It was a funny thought because instead of the springtime euphoria we’d hoped to feel, we were anxious. 

February and March have been chaotic months for nearly everyone we know. Serious relationships have ended. Jobs have been lost. Friends have left the city.

These things are happening suddenly, and constantly, and seemingly without warning. In a strange way, I’m starting to feel accustomed to the shock of small traumas. 

What is there to do when trees fall? 

Do your best to move out of the way, I think. Clear debris. Resume living.

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You can find my previous POV entries, here, and the archive for my personal essay column on the Equals Record, here. Thank you so much for reading!
 

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