THE TREE THAT WOULD BECOME A CHAIR

(This is meant for storytelling.)

Yah know I lived in Japan for ten years and there are some funny things about Japanese conversation.  One is that lots of times people will start a conversation with anno neh, and anno neh means absolutely nothing.  People just say it to get the other person’s attention.  Well, being a foreigner in Japan, you often get looked at as if you’re an allien just landed, so starting a conversation with anno neh gets them convinced that your not talking to them in English.  Otherwise, you often get responses to your Japanese with, “I don’t speak English.”  So there you are with this person talking to you in English, telling you that they don’t speak English and you’re speaking Japanese.

Another thing about Japanese is that when a person starts giving a talk they often start off by telling you how nervous they are.  Its a way of showing one’s humanity.  So can you imagine Tony Robbins, Donald Trump or the like starting a talk with, Hi, I’m really nervous.

Well, I am a bit nervous.  Probably goes back to 2nd grade, when my teacher decided to let this shy introverted kid, myself, be the princess in the school play, and I looked out into the audience to a sea of faces none of which I knew.  Mom was sick, and Dad, well you didn’t ask off from work for things like that in his world.  Well, in five seconds flat I developed dyslexia and still have some of it to this day.  So, this story is for my second grade teacher who gave me my start, and, if my dyslexia kicks in, I ask for your forgiveness in advance.

But, this is a kind of magical story because it takes place in the woods at a time long ago and far away, but really it is a story about us.

This story’s hero is a carpenter who lived way back in the time when the Emperors of China were sublimely wealthy and well respected.  This was a very special and mysterious carpenter whose chairs and tables held a magic quality beyond words to express, and it is said that some of his craft still remains today hidden away for all time.

You see this carpenter had a way with wood.  He didn’t go out in the forest and pull any tree that met his fancy.  He waited to find a tree who was willing.

That reminds me of something I heard about trees and how they have a way to bring calm and serenity to us.  I have heard that they made an instrument that measures the inside of trees, and they have found that trees actually do have a very calm center that radiates out from them.  But, they are also quite telepathic, so you bring a woodcutter near the tree and this equipment registers a flutter of activity that escalates as the woodman prepares to make his first stroke into the tree, but, not only that all the surrounding trees start to register activity, and, if you actually cut down a tree the equipment has graphs going off the charts throughout all the surrounding trees.  Yah know, I never heard if that was true or not, but it is why I had trouble with these seminars a friend had gotten me to be a part of.

You see I had heard that 90% of our communication is unspoken, and these seminars were all centered around language and communication, and I thought that we were more like those trees, but getting back to the story.

Yah see this carpenter was kind of different.  He would go out into the woods and just sit with the trees…….sometimes for three or four days.  He would just sit with them and let them know his intentions, and finally one of them would start leaning in his direction, and he would talk to the tree telling it well I have table I want to make for the people down the road.  They’re nice people with two children.  Its a sunny room where you will be.  Things like that and the tree with agree or disagree to come with him.  In this way, the carpenter made his fame.  You could say he was a tree whisperer.  In fact, maybe that is where the idea comes from.

Well, word of who he was reached the emperor, who wanted a new chair for his throne not for himself, but for his Bride to Be.  Now, there were stories both good and bad about the Emperor.  Some said that he was a generous and humorous fellow.  Others said that he was stern and difficult to deal with, and the trees knew this.  So, when the carpenter was called to the Emperor’s Palace, because the Emperor sought him out to make a chair for his bride, he went out into the woods, but many of the trees turned their branches away from him.

The carpenter walked further out into the forest and further.  One month went by, and the Imperial Guards came after him asking what happened?  Two months went by, and he said wait, “There is one tree about a mile from here that is starting to lean in my direction.”  The carpenter knew that the best thing would be for the tree to come willingly.

So, after the Guards left he went further into the forest, and sat with the tree that had started to lean in his direction.  He built a fire from twigs that had fallen and made himself some tea and had meal or two.  As he did this, he told the tree stories about the Imperial Palace, the room where the throne was, about the Emperor and things that he had heard about the Emperor’s new bride….how he had met her, games she had liked to play as a child and mostly how beautiful and delicate she was.  As the carpenter said this the 500 year old tree started to imagine the child sitting in its branches and turned to the carpenter.  In that moment, the carpenter could see exactly how the chair was already there formed in the tree’s body, and the mind of the carpenter and the tree became one.

The carpenter put down his cup and brought out a thick rope  beautifully twined that had bells attached and red ribbons, and he put it around the tree to celebrate.  He then tied the rope to his waist and leaned against the tree, and the tree leaned against him, but ever so lightly, and, at the wordless moment that they had both agreed to the the carpenter gave a tug and the tree let go of all of its roots, the carpenter leaned over to his side and down on the ground and the tree laid down beside him.  There was no struggle.

After that, the carpenter spent one month in the woods, lovingly bringing the chair out from the tree.  He then tied the chair to his back and effortlessly, as if it were bag of cotton, brought it to the palace

Never did the tree miss being in the forest.  It was always happy for the comfort it brought to Emperor’s bride and their three children who often bounced on her lap.  The chair was the throne of many Empresses to come and it is said that somewhere in China the chair is still hidden away and escaped all harm through the centuries.  It is also said that whoever sits in the chair feels that the chair was made exactly for them.

To this day, when you go to Japan, where many traditions come from China, you can still see trees that are considered sacred and have thick twined ropes with bells and red cloth tied around them.  Now, I can not prove it, but, it seems to me that the story of the carpenter is where this tradition started.

And, I can not help but think that we are all something like that tree with the unseen treasure inside it waiting for the right moment to come out.

©Roseroberta ‘2004

 

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