The Age of Leaves

This is not a tale of doom or despair, nor is it one of pain and misery. Much like life, this tale does indeed have despair and misery along the way, but those aspects do not define it. Likewise, this tale also has much pain and a creeping doom. But–as with despair and misery–these traits do not define this tale.

No, this is a tale of hope.

For, in the beginning, the Earth dreamt of infinite futures and birthed infinite forms in hope that one would succeed.

These countless forms swam through its depths in frigid, dark oceans, they crawled across its surface from barren deserts to humid jungles and they soared through its skies both high and low.

Not all of these forms survived.

Like dreams amidst slumber, morning eventually breaks and the dream fades. Some weaker forms fragment to return to creation and be recycled into other, new and different forms. These micro-tragedies are little more than raindrops falling from the skies to nourish the ground. And, as with raindrops, their cycle will eventually take them back up into the misty, cloudy skies.

Other forms reached their crescendo and found peace there. They were beautiful and in balance with themselves and the Earth. These survived across the eons in their own, unique perfection. From the crocodile to the cockroach, from the shark to the great trees themselves, they ceased shifting form. This is neither good nor bad, it merely is.

And then one particular form shifted dramatically as it dreamt its own dreams. Man’s own form rose upwards as his thoughts lifted above and beyond his myopic life to that of infinity.

Man dreamt and the wilderness receded. Man dreamt and cold concrete poured where fields of grass and savannas had once lain, rigid steel penetrated the Earth where great trees had once taken root and other forms–oh, so many others!–fell to Earth as raindrops to nourish the land of man.

What was once light was now dark, and the growing form of man steadily spread over the Earth. Every dream has a risk of becoming a nightmare. Once strong and vibrant, the planet now appeared weak and fragile.

But nothing lasts forever, not even the form of man.

As the food and fuel ran out and the water dried up, terrible plagues and famines hit. War and terror fell from the cluttered heavens as man killed man…

And in less than a cosmic second, man’s creeping form was no more.

Much had been lost but the Earth kept on spinning through its cosmic slumber and its dreams turned once more to that of forms.

A few of the forms that had lasted the eons still survived, and the greatest of these were the trees.

As fallout mingled with dreams, forms twisted and needs evolved. Water was scarce as fleeting rays of light flittered between dust clouds and ever-shifting fallout…

And, eventually, born out of these needs those few great surviving trees dreamt of walking.

Root pulled from ground, bark pushed against rock and branches rustled as they tried to balance. Slowly at first but then faster and faster, the trees of another age became the trees of this age.

Far overhead, an ageless, endless cosmos spun as the Earth floated through its starry embrace. And far below it, the trees began to hue out a place for themselves from the hollow remains of man’s dust.

Trees dreamt and the dusty wasteland receded. Trees dreamt and fields of grass and savannas sprung up where cold, crumbling concrete and rusty steel had once stood tall. Trees dreamt and great roots of living, lush cities buried deep into the Earth where vast megalopolis had once swallowed the planet.

The skies cleared and rain fell from the heavens above, nourishing the land.

But it was no longer the land of man.

No, this was the land of trees and, thus, began the age of leaves.