Irma took our power, but not our hope

Tampa Bay Times - - Local -

As too many peo­ple fig­ured out last week, it can take a long time to re­store power after a hur­ri­cane.

It doesn’t mat­ter how of­ten you call to com­plain, or how sad and droopy you try to ap­pear as the power trucks drive past you on the street. Some­where along the line you dis­cover you are at the mercy of oth­ers. That goes for ca­ble, In­ter­net and gas, too. Not to men­tion trash col­lec­tion or roof re­pair.

If there is a lin­ger­ing les­son from the winds of Hur­ri­cane Irma, it is that a healthy por­tion of our daily lives can be achingly be­yond our con­trol. Ex­cept, maybe, for this:

Our ca­pac­ity for hope.

“I wish to be brave enough to be out of the or­di­nary”

For nearly a week now, the Wish Tree has lain top­pled on its side in the Avant-gar­den at the Sal­vador Dalí Mu­seum. If you were look­ing for a storm’s metaphor, the roots of this one were lit­er­ally plain to see.

Mind you, this tree is not high on the list of at­trac­tions at a world-class mu­seum. It’s a hu­mon­gous Florida fi­cus that has a his­tory of fall­ing prey to winds de­spite many pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sures.

Yet among the price­less art, gourmet cafe and unique architecture at the Dalí, the Wish Tree has grad­u­ally be­come a sen­ti­men­tal de­par­ture point for many of the mu­seum’s 400,000 an­nual visi­tors.

The idea, based in Hindu and Scot­tish tra­di­tions, is to write a wish on the back of your ad­mis­sion wrist­band and at­tach it to the tree on your way out the door.

“My wish is that my mom can walk on my wed­ding day”

The idea, re­mark­ably, has grown as large as the tree. Wrist­bands cre­ate a kaleidoscope of col­ors along the trunks, branches and sup­port wires. The Dalí has started hang­ing rib­bons from the branches so the wishes can be pe­ri­od­i­cally re­moved, recorded and even­tu­ally re­placed.

For the past few years, on Vet­er­ans Day, the mu­seum has held a cer­e­mony in the gar­den where select wishes are read aloud.

“It’s been pretty amaz­ing what we’ve seen on our own so­cial me­dia (re­gard­ing) the re­ac­tion to the tree be­ing down,’’ said Kathy

Greif, chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer at the Dalí. “Peo­ple from all over the world are writ­ing, ‘I left my wish on that tree, I pray for you guys, I hope it’ll be okay.’ The out­pour­ing has been pretty amaz­ing. It’s let us know how much that tree has touched peo­ple.’’

“I wish I could beat this pill ad­dic­tion and move my baby girl out of this house we live in”

The wishes are per­sonal and global. Heart­break­ing

Jro­mano@tam­pabay.com

JOHN RO­MANO

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