Thoughts and illustrations on living on the autism spectrum.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Tree

I am feeling the love these days. Next week, I will leave the job I’ve held for nearly a decade. Already, the hugs have started from co-workers. Already, the email messages of thanks, the stories of memories we shared and even those we didn’t, and the looming spectre of the goodbye pizza party. As if all the love came out of hiding. It leaves me to wonder, after next week, where will it go?

John Gorka said, “People love you when they know you’re leaving soon.” Certainly, endings amplify feelings already there. With some people, it’s okay to say, “Yes, I’ll stay in touch, I’ll come back to visit,” and not really mean it. But I also have friendships I would be sad to see end, that I hope will survive outside the familiar context. It has worked for me sometimes, but many times, it hasn’t. There are more ways than ever to keep in touch these days, but it still comes down to the free will of both people.

A song called “The Tree” by Blitzen Trapper found its way into my head this week. It suggests that all our relationships connect us to others in the way a tree is made up of interconnected branches. Our bonds to friends and loved ones are there for us throughout our lives, as a tree that grows from the ground to the sky, “never-ending.” As the tree is a living organism, our relationships too remain alive, a chain connecting us to each other, to the twists and turns of fate, and to the universe.

It’s not a new metaphor, but it’s an appealing one. What a comforting thought that as we go along in life, we can simply reach out to the people we need, when we need them, as if reaching to the next branch on a tree. But is that overly idealistic?

It is human nature to love and to connect. If these things are so important to us, why is it so difficult to stay connected? Why are there people who say they don’t feel a connection to anyone? Some are afraid to let others get too close, or that they drive others away. Some say no one else has been able to know them the way they’d like to be known. They have known love in their life, and they wonder where it went. I admit I feel unsure myself sometimes. Do any of us really feel sure?

My own tree has branches that are vibrant and branches that are dormant. It needs constant feeding to grow and remain strong. Different branches need different care. Relationships take time and they take work. But they can surprise us. When a relationship is meant to last, it doesn’t feel like work, and it will find a way.

When I change jobs, as with any life transition, branches will shift. It’s inevitable. The love I’m feeling from co-workers now will go somewhere. I want to believe it won't go away. I believe it will be there, wherever, whenever I need it. I won't worry about how. Maybe I’m not meant to understand, as the song says.

You must be blind if you’re to see,
Must walk behind if you’re to lead,
Must be the soil to the seed,


  1. Matt, I absolutely LOVE this post for so many reasons. Thanks so much for this. As you know, I can relate so very well to the job loss. I am convinced, however, that you will land on your feet and do something wonderful and your new coworkers will be all the better for it.

  2. What you said in this particular blog so closely relates to faith. Faith in each other, and for many of us, faith in God. Love. It doesn't have to be romantic or sexual. It just needs to be. And blessed are those who receive it, as well as those who give it.

    Thanks for having a blog that I want to read, feel at home reading, and can't wait to read more of!


  3. Thank you Chris, and you are right - well said.