On Wednesday morning I arrived at the studio to sub the 10:30 class and a small work crew was standing in front of the studio. I quickly realized they were preparing to cut down the beautiful tree that stands (stood) in front of our window. I was shocked, as were the students who were arrived early for my class and the students who were finishing up the Pilates class.
I called the property manager to get some information. She normally lets me know when any type of work will be happening on the property. It turns out the work had been scheduled for the end of June, but the crew had some time available and they showed up ahead of schedule.
According to the property manager, it was necessary to remove the tree because its roots were causing the walkway to become uneven, posing a safety issue. And the roots were also affecting the foundation and thus our ability to fully open our front door.
By now, I think everyone knows that the entire property will be demolished toward the end of 2014 for a road construction project. It didn't make sense to me why our tree needed to be removed now.
As I prepared to teach the class, one of the workers climbed up the tree with a chain saw and a machete. Susan, one of the ladies in my class, walked to the front of the studio and picked up a yoga strap. She said we should form a protest and volunteered to strap herself to the tree. She was half serious, but her comment helped lighten the mood. We were all sad about what would transpire.
The crew started cutting the smaller branches, then worked their way to the bigger branches. Bit by bit, the whole tree started to come down. Cindy, another lady in my class, spoke up as we were putting away our props at the end of the practice.
She said she was distracted during class because she saw 3 birds fly by looking for the tree. She observed that the birds didn't panic, they just seemed to acknowledge that the tree was gone. She said the birds taught her a lesson in non-attachment. I was proud of her yogic learning, but at the same time I mourned the loss of a home for the birds and squirrels, and the loss of life of the tree.
When I got home, I posted a note on the private Facebook page the TYR teachers use to communicate. I told the teachers that the tree was being cut down, and they responded with notes of sadness and loss.
Emily: I loved that tree. Now from where will the squirrels watch yoga class?
Angela: I've already teared up a couple of times. I'm nervous about going to the studio. I've created a little something for people to sign (if they want) to give a little closure.
Stacy: The squirrel came by right as the pregnant ladies were leaving, looking for the tree. He just moved on. I think [this lesson] is to help us let go. The studio is changing. It's moving, it's growing, it's expanding. It's not the same that it was. We can't get too caught up with what's on the surface - that doesn't mean we can't feel sad, but our emotions show us where our own gaps are. It's a gift. We will miss what was, but along with every rebirth comes some destruction.
The next day, I was scheduled to teach the 8:00 a.m. class. I was nervous walking up to the studio. I didn't know what to expect, literally and emotionally.
After class, I posted another note for the teachers: It was a shock to walk up to the front door and feel like my friend the tree was missing. In its absence the studio is brighter, but I miss the filtered light. I miss the long branch that grew horizontally. I had always wanted to hang a wind chime or sun catcher on it. The orange cones and Caution tape in the tree's place add insult to injury.
And the teachers responded...
Angela: It looks like a crime scene. I was so "out of sorts" when I entered the studio this morning. Ungrounded. Everyone in my class felt that way as we started. By the end were stabilized, re-grounded, & re-connected & had a bit of closure for the loss of our beautiful tree. During class I saw the little squirrel running around the courtyard. He seemed lost. One student suggested putting a green umbrella & little table where the tree stood. Another student suggested we have a little ceremony. I observed another student pause at the tree site & reflect with her hand on her heart.
On the surface, it may seem silly that we are all so attached to a tree. We may not even have realized how attached we are or were. Yoga teaches non-attachment - not getting attached to things or people. I've written about non-attachment before, you can read the post here. It's easier for me to be non-attached to material things, but this week I learned that being non-attached to living things is significantly harder.
As the teachers and I mourn the loss of the tree and learn lessons from our emotions and thoughts, I know you may have reactions you'd like to share. Please post your thoughts and sentiments in the Comments section below.