Bonsai and the power of small trees

When the first lockdown hit New York in 2020, freelance writer Max Falkowitz was stuck on his own. He is single and lives alone, and Falkowitz was struck by how little he touched living beings. He went from hugging friends to walking cautiously alongside them.

None of this was good for his mental health. Falkowitz suffers from depression and generalized anxiety, and the sudden drying up of work combined with loneliness has made these challenges more acute.

To occupy his unwanted free time, Falkowitz decided to hunt for a hobby. He started out growing indoor plants, but found that wasn’t enough to sustain his interest. He needed something that would stimulate his mind more.

Max Falkowitz grows bonsai from his home in New York. (Max Falkowitz)

He found that bonsai, the Japanese art of growing small trees, provides the kind of intricate, detailed work he craved and Falkowitz dove in.

He started looking at bonsai exhibits and soon after had his own collection. Falkwotiz found that tending to his miniature cedars, redwoods and pines helped him feel better. He wrote about the experience for the Vox website.

Falkowitz tells Tapestry that the experience not only brought him closer to an understanding of life and death, but brought him a community.

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