Thoughts of an Old Man

The reason I started this web site is that I wrote a book, “My Old Man Tree,” and my publisher suggested that I should have a presence on the Internet so more people could learn about it and possibly buy it!  As you know, I’ve been remiss about talking about the book in these entries.  Today will be different.  I do want you to know before I get started that the story was not written for money or personal publicity.  Both of those may happen if the book reaches a wide audience, but they were not my motivation.

Whenever I’m asked about “My Old Man Tree,” I try to make it clear that it is a true story, nothing made up, not even the times of the days I walked Anastasia Island’s beaches over several, week-long visits I made to that island since 2014.  The photographs are real.  They are of Anastasia Island, and the tree which is prominent in many of those pictures is the tree which I came to think of as “My” old man tree!

When I first came upon the old tree, it stood alone (and may still stand) on the sand, near the surf, but not so close that the tide could reach it.  It had no leaves on its short branches, no bark on its trunk.  It stood tall and gray, leaning back toward the ocean as if braced against the morning breeze.  I felt compelled to touch the tree, to walk around it, to wonder about how it got there.  It was as though I was visiting a lonely, friendless old man who wanted company and maybe a chance to share some thoughts and some hard-earned wisdom with another understanding friend.

Soon, on my daily, early-morning walks and visits with the old tree, I began to think of the two of us as similar.  He was old as I was old.  He had lost most of his bark and all of his leaves.  I had lost most of my hair and all of my youth.  He stood deliberately, as if bracing himself.  I knew that feeling.  He had lived long and had learned from his living and had much to share and teach to those who would listen; so did I.  He would not be recognized easily by those who knew him fifty years ago, and neither would I.

I soon began to think of him as “My” old man tree, not because I owned him, but because we had developed a special bond, and I cared for him and wanted him to remain standing strong in the sun or in the wind and rain, quiet, yet ready to share his thoughts with anyone who might give the time to listen and understand.

The story, “My Old Man Tree,” is not for everyone, and especially not for those caught in the gadgetry and complexities of modern life and who have little time to think beyond themselves. “My Old Man Tree” is written for and dedicated to “all who walk into the new day gently and see and listen and learn.”  Perhaps you are one of those people.

Why did I write “My Old Man Tree”?  All I can say is that it seemed necessary to write it.  I’m satisfied with that.  I’ve learned that there are always mysteries in life that cannot be explained.

Ken McCullough

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