I was sitting in an airport terminal recently, reading the paper when the man next to me struck up a conversation. I offered him part of my newspaper, save the article I wanted to read entitled â€œTree Replanted at Site of Terror Attacksâ€.
On September 11, 2001 you will recall that the twin towers in New York City were brought down in a matter of minutes by terrorist attacks, and the entire footprint of that complex was nothing but smoking rubble, except for a Callery Pear tree that was still standing, albeit blackened and broken.
The tree was about eight feet tall with fractured roots when it was transplanted from Ground Zero to a Parks Department nursery. New York Cityâ€™s Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, along with other city officials and some of the 9/11 survivors replanted the tree recently in the 9/11 Memorial Plaza.
The Callery Pear is a deciduous tree that can grow to heights of 66 feet tall and is known to be remarkably resistant to blight or disease and is valued for its wood for making woodwind instruments.
When I shared this article with the man sitting next to me at the airport he snorted â€œNope, donâ€™t believe itâ€. I laughed and asked him what exactly he didnâ€™t believe.
He replied that he just didnâ€™t believe that a tree could withstand the collapse of the towers and the ongoing fires. I showed him the article and he just shook his head. â€œNope, not buyin itâ€ was all he said as he turned to the sports page.
It made me think about the survivors of September 11th, and how quickly we forget that amidst all the loss and devastation, there were indeed survivors.
I have known people who have lost husbands, wives, children, and others who have suffered incredible illnesses. These losses were all completely devastating and still these folks live on and continue to create their lives anew each day.
Why do we gravitate to the belief that life is hard, that hope is a pipe dream, and that itâ€™s just an illusion to believe that trees and people can survive the most horrific events? I believe itâ€™s because our culture views hope as silly. Itâ€™s almost as if itâ€™s cool or hip to be cynical.
Is it pie in the sky to believe that life can be difficult, and then change on a dime and be wonderful again? You might set yourself up when you allow hope to be your companion, but donâ€™t we all need a little companion at our side now and again?
The tree is known as the Survivorâ€™s Tree. At the replanting ceremony Keating Crown, a 32-year-old worker who escaped the 110th floor of the south tower, said that the tree would remind visitors of the thousands of survivors whose lives were forever changed by the attack. â€œIt reminds us all of the capacity of the human spirit to persevereâ€ he said.
This week a friend informed me that her husband of twenty five years has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and that it is spreading throughout his body. She spoke of their continued search for a more effective treatment, of her love and dedication to him and of hope. The hope she spoke of was not an ignorant wish-she is fully aware of his odds, but she is choosing hope over cynicism and I think that is both brave and beautiful.
I believe that life can be hard, even brutal at times. But I also think the human spirit has a resiliency that is dormant until the need arises, then with careful nurturing can be called upon to produce incredible growth.
You can go through life jaded and angry, reading only the sports pages and bracing yourself for the worst; or you can believe that beautiful pear trees can withstand incredible suffering and still stand. Iâ€™m betting on the tree.
PHOTO CREDIT DNAinfo/Julie Shapiro