Sawing Down Tree Branches

It was a Wednesday morning.
Around 1030 hours.
And it was scorching hot.
Pushing 100 degrees.
With a heat index
Near 110.

And there I was
In my front yard.
With a crosscut saw.
Cutting down the low branches
Of the trees
In my front yard.

I had this objective.
To cut down the branches
Of the crepe myrtles
Out by the street.
So we could park cars there
With out running into
The branches of the trees.

When I got that done,
I went to the oak trees
In the middle of the yard.
And decided it was time
To cut down the branches
That were low to the ground
So I could walk
Under those damn things.

I did this all by hand
With my crosscut saw.
And that’s when something
That I’ve never understood
In all my days
Just clicked into place
In my mind.

For as I was standing there,
In the scorching heat.
Sweat dripping off of me.
Sawing down branches
Off of trees.
It occurred to me
That none of the people
That I used to work with
Would even try to do
What I was doing.
Especially not in such heat.

And there I was.
Cutting down those branches
Like it was an every day thing
For me.

The nasty little voice
That lives inside of me
Kept telling me
What wimps so many people
Really are.
But it used some really nasty words
That I just can’t repeat.
One of those times
When you think to yourself,
“When the heck
Did I learn to use
Such language?”

And as I was standing there
Thinking those nasty thought,
And actually having fun
Sawing down those branches
Of those trees.
I remembered something
That I’d said
In the last few days
That I had worked
With them.

I’d told them I could tell
That they were nervous
Around me.
That they knew
If I went violent,
It would be very hard
For any of them
To stop me.

And I told them
That I never would
Go violent.
That going violent
Just wasn’t me.

And standing there
In my front yard.
10 months later.
I realized
That they had truly been
Scared of me,
Physically.
At least to some extent.

I watched the saw
As I cut through
Another branch
Of an Oak tree.
And I thought
How most people that I know
And all of those
That I used to work with
Would have used
A power saw
To do what I was doing.

And there I was,
In the scorching heat.
And the high humidity.
Cutting down those branches,
Some of them 3 or 4 inches
In diameter.
With a hand held
Crosscut
Saw.

Better yet.
Doing so
Was absolutely normal
To me.

Now, I’ve been told
For very many years
That when people first meet me
They are scared of me.

And I’ve been told
That all I have to do
Is walk into a room
And people there
Can tell when I do.
That I have this presence
Physically.
That is so very easy
To notice.

Until that Wednesday,
Cutting down those branches
Out there in the heat.
I had never understood
Why anyone at all
Would be scared of me.

I’d always laughed
When I had been told
That someone was afraid
Of me.

I noticed that the saw had stopped.
Cutting through a branch.
And I was standing there.
In my front yard.
Dumbstruck.

“They’re right.”
I thought to myself
Standing there.
“They’re right.
‘Cause damn.
I’m strong.”

And I damn near cried.
In my front yard.
Because I finally understood
Why people sometimes are
Scared of me.

That my physical size.
And strength.
And weight.
And the way I move.
When combined together.
Could almost certainly
Scare some people
Rather badly.

I remembered this image
That a friend had shown to me.
One night
Nearly 30 years ago.
As we were walking
To the library
At the university.

She’d stopped.
And pointed to the windows
Of the Library.
At the reflection
Of the two of us
As we walked along.

“That’s why people
Just leave me alone
When I walk with you.”

There in that image
In the window
Stood a porcelain doll.
Just over 5 feet tall.
She was this work of art.
So graceful.
And so pretty.

And next to her
There stood a bear
Of a human being.
Over 6 feet tall.
With a beard
And a mustache.
And every single inch
Of the image of that guy
That I saw that night
Screamed, quite literally,
“Mess with me and my friend,
And I’ll rip your arms off
And make you eat them.”

It took me nearly 30 years.
But there I was.
Standing in my own front yard.
With a saw in my left hand.
Looking at the ground.
And not seeing
Anything.
As I realized
For the first time
I my whole life.
That even at my age
I’m physical enough,
And strong enough,
And have enough
Presence.

That it’s quite possible
That I scared the hell right out
Of damn near everyone
That I once worked with.

And I never once
Had understood
That simple fact.
Until right then.

But I’m still left wondering
Why the people that I worked with
For all of those years
Could ever think,
Ever believe,
That I’d ever
Hurt a single one
Of them.

That they even could
Think such an awful thing
Of me.
Leaves me wondering
To this very day.
If anyone I worked with
In that place
Ever knew anything at all
About me.

How could anyone believe
That I’d hurt someone
That way?

That,
I just don’t understand.
At all.

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