Almost every culture has a parable comparing life to a tree. We all start with the roots of family, wild and ranging, channeled into a trunk, parents. As we age, we meet others, branch off from the basis of our family and blossom into a one of a kind work of art.
Each little knot in our life is an opportunity to grow. If we stop too long to worry over the little uncomfortable gathering of cells (ideas, people, beliefs), the rest of the tree starts to fade.
If we keep concentrating on the pain of the outcropping, we lose the detail of the events and people in our lives who are active and alive. We sharpen our attention on the one event which began the knot.
The future is no longer in focus because we convince ourselves this trauma is the only thing which defines us. We need to meticulously pull it apart, study the pieces, dissect all the reasons, calculate the probability of happenstance, assign blame, lament, stagnate. Before long, the introspection is self-fulfilling.
We have become experts in pain and see only stark repetition for as long as we can imagine, even longer than we believe we can endure.
Winds of Change
There is another path. The tree has many branches. Over time, the ones unsupported or damaged by the wind and weather fall from the tree. In their place, the knot grows protective bark, healing into a gnarl. The tree does not spend all of its energy healing. Instead, it takes the best of its nutrients and feeds the tender shoots, budding leaves and blossoms.
Life teems, and the future fills with songbirds and squirrels and koalas and monkeys. They all see the value in the tree, not for its gnarled knot where the branch once was but for the life in the branches which remain.
Over time, the tree is so busy building branches for the life around it, it stops tending to the gnarl. It does not forget. The gnarl has settled, bark protecting the exposed flesh from irritating bugs. The gnarl is stronger than the flesh around it because it weathered the elements whilst unprotected by the bark. Come the spring, the tree will send tender shoots out around it in remembrance of the branch to balance itself. The blossoms fill the void where the branch once was. Life renewed.
All of us are trees. The gnarls in our lives are the losses we suffer every day. Some are minor, the gentle fading of an acquaintance. Some are significant, the loss of a career. Some are monumental, the death of a Mate.
The branches in our lives are the people who feed us by absorbing the sun’s rays. They feed us physically and spiritually. Some people have only a few leaves on the branch. Some have rows of blossoms. They bring us sustenance and joy.
There is always a branch which supports more leaves and blossoms and other branches than all the rest. When we lose that branch, we have to admit there are other branches which still feed us, even as we heal the gnarl left behind.
Watching the growth of those branches is not forgetting the branch which was lost, but instead, it is celebrating the survival of the tree despite the storm. How full of life will you fill your future?
Widowed Blog Hop
The first Wednesday of every month is the Widowed Blog Hop. Take a moment to check out some of the other blogs on the hop. There are some new participants this month. Stop by and say hello. Mention my name, and get a better seat.
If you would like to know more about my journey losing my spouse and the survival which is possible afterward, Killing Us Softly: Becoming the Surviving Spouse of Cancer is available in ebook, Kindle, PDF and paperback at RedmundPro.
As always, thank you for sharing and supporting blog hops.
How does focusing on the past rob us of our future? Is there a branch in your tree which could use a drink of water? Are you a strong branch for someone else? Does your tree support wildlife?
#Hashtags: #widows #grief #coping
© Red Dwyer 2013
Fractal art series Branches is not available for reproduction.
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