Thursday, November 18, 2004

There are too many of it...

Favorite book quote of the day:
"There's a tree that grows in Brooklyn. Some people call it the Tree of Heaven. No matter where its seed falls, it makes a tree which struggles to reach the sky. It grows in boarded-up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps. It grows up out of cellar gratings. It is the only tree that grows out of cement. It grows lushly . . . survives without sun, water, and seemingly without earth. It would be considered beautiful except that there are too many of it."
(preface, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith)

The other day as I was driving home during rush hour an ambulance approached from behind, its siren wailing. Immediately, silently, the cars around me pulled to the sides of the road to let it pass. In that moment I found this occurrence strangely admirable, and also mystifying. Admirable because the people who, just moments before, had driven hunched over the steering wheels like balls of seething road rage, were now dutifully, even respectfully, making way for something critical. Mystifying because I wasn't sure I should find pride or comfort in a sporadic display of humanity.

I know that kindness exists everywhere, even extreme, life-changing acts of kindness . Someone donates a kidney to a stranger. A fireman rushes into a burning building to save a life.

Today a student held the door for me as I entered the library. He smiled, too.

Sometimes a tree grows in the library.


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