She stood in silence, mourning an old friend.

It wasn’t a person… or a beloved pet… but rather a tree.

It wasn’t just any tree. It was the Hardy Tree, planted by Thomas Hardy in the 1860’s who then surrounded it with gravestones. The tree and the stones eventually grew together as one.

She was so excited to show me the tree, as it was a place of frequent visits for her. Sadly, illness had fallen it the winter before. It was heartbreaking to see it lying on the ground behind a chain-link fence. It was more than just a tree. It was a friend. It was hundreds of memories. It had been a symbol of life over death, and now it was a symbol of death itself.

It made me think back to my time in the Santa Monica mountains, where I walked with, and let go of, the symbols in my life.

Symbols are so powerful because they’re so personal. They mean whatever you want them to mean. That’s why they run so deep.

I didn’t have the same feeling for the tree as she did, but I deeply understood.

After we paid our respects, we spent hours in the British Library. Talk about symbols! Every page of every book had something. Even when I couldn’t read or understand them, I could feel their light, and the weight they carried with them.

Even our meal became a symbol. Mango Lassi, with its bright golden sweetness became a toast to our friendship, one that has spanned more than a decade, even though we were meeting for the first time.

It’s got me thinking about next week.

October 25 is the five-year anniversary of the start of this chapter.

I haven’t yet figured out what symbols, if any, will go with me this time.

My mind is focused on the Beverly Hills Art Show this weekend (another symbol of something greater).

I’ll get to it after that.

Just like my journey to the mountain…

I’m taking it one step at a time.

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