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Behind the Eyes of Joe

When I see wild places developed this is what goes through my mind:

Behind the Eyes of Joe

On a day like any other, a beautiful baby was born. He came into the world without hate, sorrow or scorn. His eyes were so brown and his gaze full of hope, his skin was so soft and his hair curled like rope. His mother named him Joe after a brother that had died. Joe would be his name which he’d carry with pride.

Joe grew up with everything a baby boy could want. But the land outside his window was his favorite haunt. He’d play with the frogs in the brown, murky ponds; he’d watch the rainbow trout as they swam, jumped and spawned. Joe loved the vast fields and the woods all around. It seemed life was so full and adventure abound! The trees were Joe’s favorite; he’d climb up so high. So high into the branches he felt part of the sky. The leaves whispered gently to Joe as he lay, “Come back again tomorrow and we’ll play, play, play!”

But, one day Joe did not come. And another year passed. The trees waited patiently to them time was vast. The trout laid her eggs, the tadpole turned to a frog, life went on without Joe in this beautiful, old bog.

Joe went off to college and earned a degree. He’d get a diploma for everyone to see. A human reward for time spent in a book, away from the field, away from the brook. Soon, a new green would envelop his life. The dollar would keep him happy and free of strife. He’d buy a big house and an SUV too, his world became small and so did his view. The land was for taking, nature is for kids, let’s start selling and developing and taking new bids. Lets plow up the earth and show the red clay, let’s put in sidewalks and fences…lets turn night into day.

Joe had followed a plan since the time of his birth, a plan handed down through the ages, which determined your worth. An orderly rule of precision and time; be sitting at your desk when you hear 8 o’clock chime. Joe had lived a good life in human terms. He’d made lots of money and owned many firms. The land he developed was now rich in blacktop, prepared for the masses and an economy to shop.

One day Joe retired. It was time for him to leave. Forty years and a career over, Joe now frowned and grieved. No more land to conquer, no more buildings to construct. No green fields to mow, no rivers to abduct. Joe’s life now consisted of a half-acre lot. A big home to boot where he could sit, gaze and rot. A place once a palace had now become a cage, a place where old people stay tucked away when they reach a certain age.

And as Joe looked out his window to his sterile, green yard, he looked and he strained, he focused so hard. In the distance was a tree, large and so free, it reminded him of what he had lost…Joe could now see!

Joe shuffled down the hall, his mind on the goal. Get the hell out of this house, I need to save my soul. The river in his mind, once dammed by his greed, was now opening and flowing, Joe’s shuffle picked up speed. Joe walked past the neighbors working in their yard, they paused to greet him, but he was pushing too hard. “Joe are you alright?” his neighbor exclaimed, but Joe’s eyes were now focused, they were precisely aimed. The words now seemed shallow, their meaning obscure. Ahead of Joe was a memory, of a time oh, so pure. As he reached the tree, Joe’s eyes filled with tears. The memories of his youth pushed forward through the years. Again in his life Joe could see all that mattered, not possessions nor worth – those things all were shattered. An old, wrinkled hand pressed against the rough, grooved bark. Joe’s mind carried him back as he stood swaying in the park.

Joe felt himself lifting as his age drifted away and the leaves high above whispered “come play, play, play.”

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