The perfectly imperfect leaf

yellow, spotted leaf held in front of an autumn forest background
Categories: Creative Writing, Personal

For the past few years, I’ve been thinking about what I want to do with this blog—and for all the thinking I did, I failed to actually do what I’ve wanted to do all along: write.

I’m revitalizing my little space on the internet to use it to my liking and worry less about whether I’m going to offend someone out in the universe (that’s a pretty presumptuous and self-important thought, isn’t it?).

Taking a page out of Seth Godin’s book, daily blogging is a habit I’d like to try, if just for the therapeutic effects and practice to putting my thoughts into words (which is a problem that’s been increasingly impacting my life each day).

In high school I dabbled in creative writing quite a lot; and even well before that, I somehow managed to nab my dad’s old laptop when I was in middle school and typed, and typed, and typed all these stories using Notepad until the poor thing broke down entirely.

15+ years later, I’m ready to get back to my roots and write again—simply because I enjoy it. ✍️

Below is a blog-esque, creative writing piece from a day of hiking in the autumn foliage with friends.


Anna tells us to pick out a leaf that we like. “For Instagram”, she says.

I can do that, I think. There’s probably thousands of leaves, if not millions, waiting for me to just pluck from the ground, freshly fallen and vibrant orange and red, those warm colors shining through as their green, youthful vitality fades with age.

So I look, and I look, as we trudge our way through the leaves, the crunching of dead leaves underfoot, unfortunate but satisfying casualties. As we see more brown before us, it feels like maybe I won’t find the leaf that screams “AUTUMN!”

In the meantime, I’m consoled with the fact that I’m deeply embedded in an earthliness not found closer to home. The stillness is a comfort for me, as a city dweller, knowing that there still exists places mostly untouched by entrepreneurial urbanites. My friends and I are just passerbys, knowing this place is both ours and not ours.

My brain forgets to look for that leaf as I relish in the scenery, knowing that this will be one of the last times before winter strips the trees completely.

For a while on the trail, I talk, Anna talks, Soohyun listens. We chat about everything and nothing, and it’s one of my favorite things even though I won’t remember a single thing we talked about later (curse this bad memory of mine).

And maybe it’s because I wasn’t focusing on looking for it when I spot it—the leaf I didn’t know I’d been looking for.

I’m in the middle of a conversation when I stop suddenly, my brain picking out the bright, perfectly-shaped yellow leaf on the ground, doing its best to blend in with the rest of its drying, yellowed comrades.

The leaf, admittedly, isn’t “perfect” in the traditional sense when I pick it up. Even though it’s got the best shape and color by far, it’s pockmarked with what I later identify as a result of a fungal infection of some sort. But that’s irrelevant—I’d found my perfect leaf.

I see the leaf for what it is, an accumulation of life, the sun that fed it, the rain that watered it, how it sustained its host and then let go when the time was ready, aged and beautiful and, in my humble opinion, a Leaf of leaves.

🍂

“Is that your perfect leaf?” Anna asks, not sounding entirely convinced it’s the best out there.

And I think, yeah, maybe it isn’t. Maybe I’ll find another one along the way and swap it for a better leaf. “Sure, yeah, I guess,” I say. I convince myself that I’ll just hold onto this one for now until we find another pile with promising candidates.

For the next few hours, even though I keep my eyes open for other bright, beautiful leaves, I see no other leaves with the same eye-catching character that my Leaf has.

Maybe I see myself in it, in a weird way. Or more like, I see what I think I’d like to see myself as, if I were a leaf. Aspiring to become an otherwise well-put-together leaf, despite the resulting afflictions from the environment it has no control over. A bit far-fetched of a metaphor, maybe, but when we’re on our way to gorge ourselves post-hike, I think about the leaf stowed in my backpack and remind myself to press it in a book when I get home.

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