Life is a struggle
Last year, I was hiking in a deep swamp near Sylvania, Georgia, and came upon this tree. Unlike the many picturesque, stately, and kenspeckle trees I had photographed earlier in the day, this one stood out. This tree was struggling. A parasitic vine had been wrapping itself around the trunk for many, many years. The vine had been sucking nutrients and water from the soil at the giant's base while pushing upward into the heights of this towering beauty. The vine wanted to overpower the tree. It wanted to climb up to the outspread limbs and cover the leaves. Robbing them of much-needed light for growth and photosynthesis. The vine wanted to take over the tree. To rob it of its identity. To steal the stature and pride that the tree had earned through years of growth in all forms of weather. The tree had been spared the ax and saw, yet it was being pulled down to the earth by an unrelenting force. The vine. But the tree silently grew upward. Proudly and honestly. I think about us when I look at this image. All the vines that pull on us. The evil people who want nothing more than for us to fail. The physical impairments. The anxiety. The prejudice and hate. They are all vines. They are all trying to take away our opportunity to reach upward as high as we can go. Like this old tree, which has had to endure this vine for many decades, we have to strive to keep reaching upward. To keep stretching our limbs higher and higher, above the reach of the vines. In the end, I found this image to be the most beautiful of all the images I photographed that day. I felt somewhat akin to this old soul. It was not perfect as some of the other giants I had photographed earlier. Yet, there was a humility and soulfulness of the timeless struggle we all endure.