The Brooklyn Chainsaw Massacre

New Meditation of the Month is HERE.

I’m NOT a big fan of horror movies.

(Even though––at my most self-indulgently dramatic––I sometimes feel like I might be living in one.)

I’ve never seen the classic slasher film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

(The poster’s tagline is “Who Will Survive and What Will be Left of Them.”)

Or the Evil Dead, Evil Dead II,or Army of Darkness series, all of which apparently feature the hero (NOT the villain) armed with a chainsaw to fight off the demonically possessed.

Yet nonetheless it’s impossible not to think of horror movies when you’re (once again) shopping for a chainsaw of your own.

I actually bought my first chainsaw in 2019.

“Why would a confirmed city-dweller ever need one?” you might reasonably ask.

You see,It was necessary to remove 12+ feet off the top of my maple tree––I measured very precisely––so it could fit diagonally into the service elevators for the move to Bushwick.

Thinking that I’d never need the chainsaw again, I gave it away afterwards via freecycle, quite surprised by how many city folk wanted it.

Two and a half years later, I once again need a chainsaw, but for a slightly different purpose.

In what amounts to my own private horror movie, one of my worst nightmares is happening.

Despite my best efforts, while new growth seems healthy, other leaves are withering prematurely.

I fear, alas, that my tree is root-bound.

Thus, this time, rather than trimming my tree’s branches, before repotting it, I need to trim its roots.

Our Feb 2019 Moving Day

Trees that are two stories tall really aren’t meant to grow on terraces.

Yet for the last eight years we’ve been quite happy together, my tree moving into ever-expanding pots.

At one point, maybe five years ago, my tree’s roots actually burst through its terracotta pot, clearly indicating its need for more expansive digs.

Being root-bound, means the roots so tightly coil in on themselves, no matter how much you water, it just can’t flow through.

My tree’s demonstrating that you can’t expand in only one direction.

Achieving new heights has to be balanced.

You have to grow both horizontally AND vertically.

The higher you reach towards the sky, the more you’ve got to stay grounded.

The more you’re giving, the more you have to be willing to receive.

And when the roots begin coiling around themselves rather than reaching out, sometimes you have to severely cut them back for the replanting to succeed.

Until this Wednesday, I blocked out of my mind that along with all my other projects, I’d enrolled in a part-time online graduate program.

To my great surprise, once I actually started reading the endless Slack message chain, I found myself needing to cram 6 weeks of work into 3 days time in order to take the first online exam today.

(Like my tree, I’m feeling more than a little cramped.)

I can’t help but wonder if this is the skyward expansion I need…

Or am I stretching out too far in one direction without being grounded.

At least I’ve recognized that repotting a two-story tree is NOT a one-person job.

Three or more humans are required––as well as a handcart––for this to work.

Fortunately, my building’s super and his assistant seem up for the challenge.

And the 11 bags (52 pounds each = 572 pounds) of potting soil I need (based on the Home Depot Gardening Calculator) now wait patiently by my door.

Fingers crossed for Monday…

As a side note, perhaps quite oddly this tree topic seems to be trending.

This spring the Wall Street Journal (and several other sources) posted articles about howtrees are the new status symbols for the ultra-rich.

“Trophy Trees” is what they’re sometimes called.

I’m both enchanted and appalled.

I intend to renew my two-year lease again this spring but when I do eventually move, since it may require a crane this time, I actually may need to graduate to being ultra-rich to take my tree with me.

Then again, I can’t really think of a better motivation than creating wealth to care for those you love dearly.

My tree has given me so much, asking for almost nothing in return.

And now it’s teaching me something new, reminding me of what Rumi told us long ago:

“Maybe you are searching among the branches,
for what only appears in the roots.”

In closing, let’s turn to the great Mary Oliver:


When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

Maybe Mary Oliver is right.

Maybe it is all quite simple and yet…

Right now my tree is root-bound,

(And maybe so am I….)

But given some more room to grow…

And with some pruning…

And a quarter-ton of potting soil…

I trust we’ll both be thriving again soon.

I wish the same for you, that you also reach skyward and stay grounded, growing in all directions, just as nature requires.

Namaste for Now,

P.S. Again, the new Meditation of the Month is HERE

I warmly invite you to leave a comment if it resonates with you.

Leave a Comment