masking tape

A Note About Masking Tape

Over the weekend my husband Jeremy and I planted a cherry tree. We had finished landscaping the backyard last year, with two fruit trees: a cocktail (more officially called a multi-graft stone fruit tree) and an apple. Sadly the apple tree didn’t make it, so we decided to replace it with a cherry.

We brought the tree home on Saturday and planted it the next day. It wasn’t until we started to dig the hole that I realized the top of the cherry tree had bent and was close to breaking off; it was a good three or four inches off the top of the baby sapling we’d be losing if I broke it off all the way.

I’m sure the damage happened to the tree in transport, the top of it hitting the roof of the car as we brought it home. But I didn’t know what to do. Break it off and hope that it would grow back? Leave it? Get a new tree altogether?

Jeremy suggested using tape to hold it together, and that it should repair itself. I wasn’t so sure. What kind of tape would you use on a young, growing tree, anyway? Wouldn’t the tape hinder its growth?

We decided to give it a try. We found a small stick to use as a brace and wrapped some masking tape around the top of the tree, holding it upright and tall against the stick.

We are by no means gardeners. I would not call us amateur, or even wannabe gardeners. We are want-to-have-a-nice-yarders. So I couldn’t tell you if this mending trick we cobbled together is a hack job or if it will indeed allow the tree to repair itself and continue to grow now that it’s in the ground.

Sometimes situations are less than ideal. Sometimes we have expectations about the way things will turn out, but the hand we are dealt doesn’t measure up to those expectations.

This happens to me frequently (if you know anything about the Enneagram, I’m a type 8 and have incredibly high expectations about everything). It’s something I have to work on constantly: managing my expectations and my subsequent disappointment (read: reaction).

While it’s something I’m generally dealing with and working on, unmet expectations can be particularly challenging when it comes to a creative practice and specifically with writing. Things always sound better in my head than they do when I finally get them on the page. The environment isn’t just so, with construction noise coming from the house behind ours, or the kids screaming next door. Then I didn’t get a response from that agent I wrote to months ago. Or I got rejected from that submission I sent out last month.

Or, I’m stuck at home, all. the. time. And I can’t shake up my routine in a way that will also shake up my mind and my brain and my approach to my work.

But, like with the cherry tree, I attempt to make do with what I have to the best of my ability. When a piece I am working on threatens to break at the top, or at any point, all I can do is cobble together a few words to string into a piece of masking tape that will hold it together for now. Later on, I can peel back that tape and look for the inherent strength of the piece that’s been there all along, but my foggy and stuck-in-a-rut eyes simply weren’t able to see it without a temporary mend to hold things in place until I was ready to see it.

If you are a nonfiction writer and you’d like to connect with other like-minded writers, I invite you to join me inside my private community More to the Story.

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