Harry’s Trees.

“Is it Harold or Harry.”    Of course.  I get this question, and have received this question, honestly, since I have been in kindergarten.  Maybe longer (laugh).

Despite that question and the fact that Harry rhymes with alot that I also have pulled with me from my name, if you knew anything about my name, then you knew what my Dad, and brother (YES, both named Harry), did for others around them.  Anyone that crossed their path, at the drop of a hat, that needed something, it happened.  That is probably the most important gift one could want to be given.  it has remained with me through every possible catastrophe, good day, bad day, scary day.  It has remained with me with this countless times in meeting hundreds of people I never knew before, in the countries, of Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Canada, and all over the United States. It is everything.

Do you believe in events that are beyond explanation?  I am not sure we are talking something supernatural, but literally, events that, even when you pit them against coincidence, the explanation still falls short.  Some of you know about the Rings Around Us Story, who I tent to keep and reserve and give to individuals when it seems the right time, usually when some pretty dear graduates make that day, then it seems appropriate.

In referring to events you cannot explain, lately, as I always had been a country boy at heart when I roamed the fields behind my house and the farms I grew up beside, sludged through the creeks and collected waterbugs and brought weed after weed home for my Mom thinking they were hand-picked bouquets, I also was an avid reader.  I would hole up in my room and literally tear through pages between the mud and outdoors I brought in daily.  That also was Ia gift I would never realize how it would come back and repay me.

Yet, the last 3-4 months, as crazy and weird as it sounds, messages of my past, and ways to deal with the hardest and craziest of events that have been unfolding, have seemed to appear through the very pages of books, messages and symbols of my past in every other or so book and then, well, tonight.

Whether you realize it or not, there are very few Harry’s and not Harold’s in the world, and unsure if that has anything to do with it, but I tend to grab and relish the books that have the word Harry in them – pretty much just a hobby 🙂

Last year, I asked for books from Barnes & Noble, to help create book wreaths for Christmas, and as bad as I feel of dismembering a book, even a bad one, I know there are often advanced copies of books that are well, still usable for making a good Christmas Book Wreath, and less for reading, and not wasting/throwing away a book (can’t do it).

One book, of course, had the name Harry in it, and OF COURSE I was going to hold onto it and well, you know, check it out since it had my name on it.  A year.  Pretty much.  Give or take a few months.  A year that book faced me every day at school in the library, I looked at it and never, once opened it and checked it out but mentally noted, have to check that out one day.  Summer has come, and after loading 50+ books into the catalog since I became so intertwined with events during the year and then heavy events happened at the end of the year that simply took all my attention away, yesterday, of all days, I began again resolved to approach the postponed duties that I have neglected and try and get back on track, at least attempt.

The first few pages, not so impressive, I mean nothing out of the ordinary what did interest me was the author was also co-writer of Minority Report, directed by Steven Spielberg, and that is not something you often see in a book that has been left on a shelf for over a year and happens to be an advanced copy of a book you feel many have not heard of.

Yet a few pages on, okay, cool a character named Harry is the main character. Tonight, exhausting myself in lists I have delayed and traveling to get things caught up, come home, crawl into bed at 5ish as my body is simply worn out to match my mind – and compelled to crack open a few pages.

The moment when you begin to see events that existed in your own life, moments of where you lived, moments of conversation you have had in places that resemble so closely to the very pages you are reading – when this happens – a conversation begins between you and those pages that seems to almost be a message from someone reminding you of how you can get through some times that you wonder at the time, how will you ever get through these moments?  Most people who do not read enough will never see a book as anything more than that, pages to climb through to finish with no internal reward except conquering pages.  However, the difference between that experience and the experience of coming across a message that eerily touches with your own experiences, thoughts, and had some kind of touch on you that you can’t shake off, when incantations of your very own past appear between pages you digest – it is hard to define that experience unless you have been there.

I am stuck wondering how the exact same events and situations in some cases, have made their way to me in a book that I truly have never heard of, was given to me to be part of a Christmas wreath, and sat there waiting for a moment when it fit the moments I felt there could be no return from.  Hard questions, yes.  Coincidence, at some point you have to truly ask yourself, is it?

I am eager to see if anyone else is willing to go out and check Jon Cohen’s book, Harry’s Trees, so that we might have a conversation about how some of these events speak to you individually, but more than just a name, I had to put down the book at page 147 when a friend from Mexico sent me an email yesterday, and him writing,

“I KNOW how much you give and give and give to all those around you. You are the best. Your generosity is legend. I always think, Harry takes care of everyone. Who takes care of Harry?”

I know this sounds like bragging about me, but stop. Wrong message,  The point is that generosity that others see I give to others?  I have felt from day one, without thinking, a push to do those things, and that has always been, and still is what has been given to me from my family, my father, my brothers, my sisters, that is what I grew up surrounded by and was always given to pass on, period.  The last question really hit me hard.  That certainly is not a care to me, I mean not high on my priority list except for wanting top make sure I remain free of having to be on meds as I get older (healthy), maintain healthy relationships with my friends (those are the only relationships – (long story) and cling even more to the philosophy of modeling care of others when they are so many people willing to spew hate to others that are different for one of countless reasons.

I never had to have the time to worry about caring for myself, others have done that for me – literally in countries where people never even had a reason to care for me, they did.  This is one single reason why most individuals I see spewing hate at people or places they have never been, truly need to just halt before they say another word.  Until they have experienced one of countless events in a place where they know no one, and those around you help you, then the same care and attention needs to be thought of before spewing hate, but many will never have that thought in their heads, completely sad.  I have had the gift of countless individuals taking care of me without ever asking, and every single time it is a gift that seems to be a result of being named after two people that did the same for countless individuals around them.

When I stumbled across some exact phrases and words individuals had said to me many years ago, literally TO ME, what do you do?  How do you break that down and come to terms with that being just coincidence?  So many of us when it comes to schedules, our days, we are happy with agreeing that “We do not have time” or “When our schedules allow us to do that” and that time will come, 50+ years later when you cannot grab those days back at all, not even one.  If I learned anything from living in another country, it was to disregard the petty excuses and trivial reasons for truly living, and live.  Just live.  And bring others with you.

My challenge to you as we approach a weekend known as 24in48 (24 hours of reading in 48 hours) – whether you are a reader or not- and even if you do not get close to 24 hours of reading in 48 hours, grab one single read that has spoken to you and that might and you have been putting off for awhile, I bet it will surprise you or stir something inside you.  However, just one instance of recalling what is it like to stir up your past through pages, it has the power to move you to even greater things.  I hope there are a few out there willing to pick up Harry’s Trees where we can have a proper discussion on the very things that make and define us as individuals as well.  Alot of food for thought, but isn’t that is what life is all about?  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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