The tree of life, the tree of death

There are few things I hate more than the post-Christmas tree in the street.

I took this photo a few minutes ago, here in midtown Manhattan, and, well, just looking at the image bums me out. Just as upright Christmas trees serve as the symbol of hope and joy for the holiday season, fallen Christmas trees—what with their brownish needles and newly acquired dog piss scent—remind us all that the next few months (cold, dreary, hopeless) will absolutely, positively suck.

And yet, it’s more than that. In a sense, the fallen Christmas tree represents my own life and struggles. As I approach my 40th birthday, I can’t help but feel more and more like that tree. All around me, folks in their 20s and early 30s hop from bar to bar, talking of careers yet to come; of girlfriend yet to be kissed; of lives barely led. I, on the other hand, am (arguably) halfway through my career. This marks my 18th year as a journalist. In another 18 years I’ll be—dear fucking God—58. Lord knows, 58-year-old writers aren’t being hired like they used to. Like that tree, I’m battling to maintain my relevence. “Please, don’t throw me out just yet! Christmas was only, oh, two weeks ago! Enjoy my lights! Smell my branches!”

Alas, it is not to be.

I am a tree.


5 thoughts on “The tree of life, the tree of death”

  1. Jeff: I hear you. I went through this last year, when I turned 40 (how is it that I am older than you??)… Also, I have worried about the work thing, and I don’t have several best-sellers under my belt.

    Then I realized that I was wasting my time. The time that I fear is running out… or at least running way too fast. Don’t waste your time on those thoughts. I know it’s hard, but there are so many better ways to be spending it.

  2. Well stated. I too am coming up on my 40th this year and have been digressing about the years gone by. Questioning everyday if the best years have come and gone. I too feel like the tree

  3. You think you have issues?
    I’m just a couple months shy of 60.
    I still feel pretty good but I notice a few things.
    Reflexes are still very quick, coordination not so much. So when I fall, like I did today I do catch myself.
    Memory isn’t what it used to be.
    I have good legs and can walk for miles – running not so much.
    I nap.
    Ya, no need to remind me old people can’t get jobs. I’m lucky that I don’t look my age, a friend gave up trying to get work and retired as soon as he could, cutting himself out of a lot of SS$.

  4. I will be 47 on Tuesday. I went back to school–and have another year left–to finally get my friggin’ degree so I could finally get the career I want. At 47. You got it easy, man 🙂

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