M. SCOTT MORRIS: Evergreens, strength and weakness

By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

It might not be wrong to show weakness, but we’re not supposed to do it.
Suck it up.
Get back in the saddle.
Tough it out.
Those aren’t horrible sentiments. Most of us have hit walls and said, “No, I can’t.”
At “gut check” time, we pushed through the pain to find the answer was always “Yes.”
But we enter this world as weak creatures, and if we’re blessed with long lives, we’ll leave the same way. No matter what feats of strength we accomplish, time will teach us all about limitation.
Shoulder joints wear out; lungs lose power; and some minds get lost among their own pathways. Whether from illness, injury or natural wear and tear, vigor slips away.
This inescapable fact hit me hard during our annual Christmas tree search.
I have allergies. My body doesn’t appreciate evergreens, but I’ve been stubborn for the sake of tradition.
I remember going with my parents to parking lots strung with white lights and filled with Christmas trees. Inhaling large and small pine particles, I walked among fresh, green rows until finding the perfect tree for our family celebration.
Pine needles can be sharp, but they don’t have to be. All I need is contact on bare skin and red welts appear. They’re not massive, go-to-the-emergency-room welts, but they’re not exactly comfortable.
As an adult, I’ve toughed it out to continue the tradition of getting live trees. I love the smell and look of a natural tree, and the idea of bringing one into my home appeals to the soul, if not the body.
I also enjoy the bittersweet feeling after Christmas, when the tree is stripped of its ornaments and tossed to the curb. I think about beginnings and endings, flourishing and decaying. I think about fleeting moments. As you might gather, I’m not always good company.
My allergies are so bad that I pay a doctor just to look after them. His nurse, Shelly, teases me for inviting discomfort by getting a natural tree. Most years, I shrug.
But this year, a virus hit and left me coughing and raw, and I couldn’t build up the mental strength needed to face those red welts.
We bought an artificial tree with white lights already on it. It looks very much like a Christmas tree.
When standing next to it, I find myself thinking some of the same thoughts I had when tossing out a live tree – only it’s me who is flourishing and decaying, not the tree.
I understand that strength and weakness give measure to each other. One couldn’t exist without the other, which almost makes them the same thing.
If those opposites can merge, why not tall and short? Black and white? Lack and plenty? Where does this end and that begin?
Maybe ours is just one world – all tangled up together, sure, but just one world.
M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@journalinc.com.