I have long since wondered what befell this little pignut hickory tree (Carya Glabra) that I found on a walk in the Pisgah National Forest, just outside Asheville, North Carolina. Its brothers and sisters in the grove around it were healthy, but perhaps this one was hollow from an early age. In my journey through the morass of my own personal demons, I met many individuals who were all but hollowed-out inside. For some, their facade mirrored their inner emptiness, like this little hickory stump. For many, however, they looked strong and confident and healthy on the surface, all the while roiling with anguish inside. Even those of us who manage to come out the other side still have hollow pockets, places where the memories of the shadows still live, which catch us by surprise every so often. Eventually, for the fortunate few, these shadows subside, but they remain–never to fade completely into the light, like scars that sometimes catch the sunlight at just the right angle to remind you that you were once injured, too. And every once in a while, you may come upon a hollow stump, a not so subtle memento of the emptier days. Maybe you walk by it, trying not to remember those times, but maybe, just maybe, you snap a photograph, a token to hold close to you, reminding you how insidious the hollowness can be.
Click here for a larger version and a color version.