I used to own a store. It wasn’t a very large store. In fact, I often joked there were walk-in closets larger than my store. But it was mine. After not completing college, finding nothing but frustration in the competitive 9-5 workplace, being unable to have children, and health-issues that make most employment difficult, this was my chance to…well, do something.
I lived for that store. My heart, soul, mind, body…everything was sunk into it. I lived, breathed, slept, ate for the store. Every moment of every day I was obsessed with either the store or some person I cared about as a result of being at the store.
There was (and is) a very sweet Community Services Officer in that town. She is a Good Human Being, a rarity in this day and age. She noticed, as did I, a Jade Tree slowly dying in the window of an abandoned restaurant across the street. Being a Good Human Being, when she saw the soon-to-be-ex-owner of the establishment opening the door, she asked to be allowed to water the poor Jade Tree. Instead of watering the dying plant, he gave it to the CSO, who brought the poor orphan over to my store.
From that point forward, the Jade Tree lived happily in the sunshine of the front window at my store. It got plenty of light, plenty of water, and plenty of attention. It was part of the display, often posing with the jewelry and miscellany that I was selling in the store. It was very happy there in my window.
Without warning one fall day, I was forced to close the store. It was nothing I had done wrong particularly, just a whim of fate. Unfortunately the store had never been prosperous; at best, I had survived. So when the hand of doom did finally fall, I was unable to reopen at another location. There just wasn’t the money to do so.
My friends and I packed up the contents of the tiny store hurriedly…shoving the contents haphazardly into 3 vehicles, unpacking the vehicles randomly into the garage at my home, and repeating the procedure until my tiny store was entirely empty.
The poor jade tree was in the garage with all the other stuff.
The good news here is that despite it being fall, the poor little Jade Tree began to do amazingly well in the garage. I was surprised, and kept watering it. It took me a while to realize that it had been saved by a tiny, round window in the steeple of the garage, which had a southern exposure. Plenty of light flooded what should have been a dark garage.
Unfortunately, I left the poor little Jade Tree in the garage come winter, and did not remember it until the freeze of winter. By that time, its slow death was obvious. Every branch on its sturdy trunk but one had already fallen off. Worried now, I brought the poor Jade Tree inside only to have the last branch snap off in my hand, truncating the trunk so it was only 3 inches above the soil and completely devoid of leaves or growth.
All hope seemed lost, but I left it in a sunny spot in the window and made sure it was watered, praying for a miracle. Beyond belief…slowly I noticed tiny specks of green beginning to poke out around knots on the trunk of the Jade Tree.
A year later, the Jade Tree has 7 thin branches sprouting out of the once naked trunk. They’re small, but hardy and growing stronger and bigger every day.
When the store closed, I allowed myself to wallow in self-pity. I fed and nursed my feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing. I let the pain wash over me, fill me and feed me. I felt justified in wallowing. How much had I lost? What was I supposed to do now? Really, what was the point of my existence?
The store was not me, it was a reflection of me. I did not die, a reflection did.
Miraculously, both the Jade Tree and I are doing well now.