And now for something completely different: a parable! As expected, winter descended upon Tulsa's Zink Park, and with it, the last of the leaves tumbled from the trees. These reluctant ones didn't join happily with their fallen friends, for they had fought all through autumn to retain their perches, and so they pondered ways they might just return to their old, lofty homes. But their letters to Santa went unanswered, and their limited retirement funds could not afford even one tiny drone from Amazon. All they had was their spot on the ground, which warmed them at night and cooled them by day. This they appreciated, and yet they wanted more, and fretted when they could not obtain it. Push came to shove when three inches of snow blanketed the wayward ones, then melted upon their piles, leaving the discouraged soggy and heartbroken. An angry voice rose from the survivors, challenging them to not give up. "You can do whatever you set your mind to," the voice insisted. So they tried to get up and climb the trees, but as leaves, they had no arms and legs. "Don't mind that," the voice said. “It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from. The ability to triumph begins with you. Always.” So these leaves wondered if they could ride the winds back up to the limbs, but they could not jump off the ground to catch a breeze. “Oh, take courage,” came the voice. “Remember - in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” Someone questioned just what opportunity they had. "Yourself," said the voice. "Believe in yourself. You can be whatever you want to be. Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” That brought laughter from all the other leaves, those who had enjoyed their fall, knowing it fulfilled their purpose on earth. "Be content with what God has given you," one told them. The voice chuckled at that. “The only person you are destined to be is the person you decide to be,” it said. “Just keep trying. It doesn’t matter how long it takes as long as you don’t stop.” So the anxious leaves tried again, and again, but those that did not crumble could not move even half an inch. The other leaves took pity on their obstinacy and sought to comfort them. "It isn't so bad down here," said one. “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn the past, or to worry about the future, but to live in the present wisely and earnestly." A softer voice suggested this: "Just be patient, and trust in God." The dissenting voice returned, confident and secure. “He who has a 'why' to live can bear almost any 'how,'" it said. Then a new voice entered the fray, one who chastised both sides. "It is not your fault you fell from the limbs. It is not your fault you cannot get back up there. It is not even the fault of the trees. It is the government's fault. You have the right to health and happiness. If you want to live again on those branches, the government must provide this." This pleased the leaves desperate to regain what they lost, and amazed those satisfied to complete what they were born to do. "What government?" said one. "Who will pay for this?" wondered another. The chastening voice scoffed at them all. "Not you!" it said. "Those with more than their fair share should provide for the rest of us." Nearly all the fallen ones wondered just who that would be. "Everyone else," came the answer. "Join with me and we'll make them pay!" And that, unfortunately, pleased just about everyone who wasn't everyone else. Then winter ended, new leaves budded, and the old ones realized they had no branches to return to. Only then did they understand that no positive thought, nor imagined right, nor even that mythical, all-powerful government, could save them from dying - which is, after all, what they were created to do.
The defiant leaf
Tulsa, OK's Zink Park, winter, 2020