If these walls could talk, they would reveal a common bond that is shared when our masks come off. Though our lives are as vast as the shade under an old oak tree and our experiences as complex and muddled as the branches above, we were all led by something to be embraced by these four walls.
If these walls could talk, they would tell of unfathomable loss, grief, rage, pain and guilt. They would tell you about shameful secrets and their ability to pillage the human soul. They would show you the faces of addiction, affliction, depression, confusion, disease, doubt, abuse, abandonment, fear…
If these walls could talk they would tell you a story even through the discomfort of paralyzing silence. I’ve been told that the body remembers even when the mind adamantly fights against it. Perhaps our bodies are like that of a tree as well.
I can vividly remember running through my grandmother’s yard as a child, my cousin and I were notorious tree climbers. There was something incredibly liberating about being so high off of the ground. We would sit up there for hours and often until it began to get dark outside.
I was so sad when one of those trees had to come down. I sat on what was left of that beautiful timber and ran my fingers over the splintery surface grieving its loss. It seemed so naked and small without its sprawling cover.
As I looked closer I noticed what looked like a frozen ripple effect, as if someone had tossed a stone into its very core then stopped the hands of time. I later learned that those distinct marks were called “annual rings” or “annual growth rings.” Those rings represent the amount of wood produced during one growing season. It fascinated me and filled me with wonder. Some rings were thicker than others. Why were some of them fragmented? Why were some of them dark and some light? If that were true then this tree must be one, two, three… how long had it been here?
If these walls could talk they would reveal the lucid rings encapsulated within our own hearts. Just as the tree reveals evidence of past trauma such as a fire, plague, disease and drought, the human body also remembers. Trauma and its resulting stress can literally create physiological changes to the body and the brain. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
If these walls could talk they would tell you that growth is possible in the midst of it all. The tree is living proof of that. It continued to generate new cells and persevere in the midst of it all. Even when a force much greater pushes against it, and the tree is forced to lean… it still grows. It creates much wider rings known as “reaction wood” to help support it.
If these walls could talk they would introduce you to hope, strength, courage and change. Even through the ups and downs and the rise and falls, through the shadows and fears and endless tears. Something led us all here.
If only these walls could talk
(I’ve had this image in my mind for quite some time and I seem to be finding them everywhere)
This was a gift, it is a cutting board.
I sat in the floor filled with emotions after giving my first on camera lived experience interview, then I looked up and saw this hanging on the wall.
Outside of the elevator
The main entrance to the Marriott in Little Rock, Arkansas. This is where the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Annual Leadership Conference was held.