Tapestry

Bonsai and the power of tiny trees

Max Falkowitz started the pandemic with little work and limited human contact, but through the art of bonsai, has found a sense of peace in the midst of a turbulent world.

Bonsai can be any kind of tree, cared for in a specific attentive way

Max Falkowitz used to keep his bonsai trees on his fire escape until a safety inspection told him he'd need to move them inside. (Max Falkowitz)

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

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

To take up his unwanted free time, Falkowitz decided to hunt for a hobby. He started with growing house plants, but found it wasn't enough to keep him interested. He needed something that would provide more stimulation for his mind. 

Max Falkowitz cultivates bonsai trees from his home in New York City. (Max Falkowitz)

He found that Bonsai, the Japanese art of cultivating tiny trees, provides the type of intricate and detailed work he was craving and Falkowitz dove in.

He started watching bonsai exhibitions, and not long after had a collection of his own. Falkwotiz found that tending to his miniature cedar, redwood, and pine trees helped him feel better. He wrote about the experience for the website Vox. 

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

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