Fractal Tree of Life

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.

Branches Tree of Life

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.

branches tree of life

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.

branches tree of life

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.

branches tree of life

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.

branches tree of life

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.

branches tree of life

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.

branches tree of life

Life Lesson

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.

branches close up

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.

Killing Us Softly: Becoming the Surviving Spouse of CancerIf 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.

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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  1. I love your fractals 🙂

  2. I have to say that I love and cherish my past for how it’s gotten me to where I am. It takes time (for me, 13 years) but it’s not an either/or for me anymore. That’s actually what I wrote about for the blog hop:
    Thanks for your post.

    • Welcome, Andrea. Although you are listed on the blog hop page, do stop in the Green Room and leave a link to your blog, as I do not believe you did last month. Also, check the CommentLuv box so your last post attaches to your comments.

  3. Oooooh a chance to include one of my fav poems. You’ll never guess who penned it.

    After the raging storms of life
    Never flinch, o heart of man
    No more than the wind tossed pine
    Deep rooted in the rock.

    Give up? Hint: It was one of 100,000 poems he left to his people. He and his wife were avid traditional waka poetry writers.
    Answer : Emperor Meiji
    frigginloon recently posted..She’s Got A Ticket To RideMy Profile

    • Awesome! I have read some of them, but I had not that one. Thank you! So great to see you today. xxx

  4. The fractals are lovely, the post is laid out so well even I can understand it.

    What a marvelous idea for the blog hop.
    Tess Kann recently posted..Hot Flash x2My Profile

    • Thank you, Tess. This one just struck me as I was writing. It would be best told with pictures. xxx

  5. Wow – this is profound and moving. I was a little choked up reading it .. it’s worth thinking on for a while..
    Dwelling on the past the lost branches diverts our energy to the past which can not be changed and colors everything we do in the present – how we view others intentions or our own strength. it robs us of the moment s of our life now and blinds us to the possiblities waiting and promising on the branches growing that willl not flourish without tending. It causes us to be rigid and hard, like the oak who suffers greater damage losing a branch then if we were the willow.. (sound familiar?) living in the past, especially in the hurts and losses of the past, causes us to live in fear and not see the love.
    I think anyways..
    much love and thank you for this ♥
    Lizzie Cracked recently posted..Weekly Photo Challenge; UniqueMy Profile

    • The intentions of others are a big factor. When we feel the sap still draining from the branch, we do fear. I love watching the blossoms open. Nothing frightening about flowers… <3

  6. I wonder why these parables of other ancient cultures are not as revered or attributed to God as the ones in the Bible. Certainly the Creator has revealed himself to other peoples in different and no less legitimate ways.
    Carl D’Agostino recently posted..“Vacation woes” by Carl D’AgostinoMy Profile

    • Probably because the parable of the tree is about exercising free will. Depending on culture, free will is innate. The tree survives because it is not meant to die. Parables are not a Judeao-Christian monopoly. The American disregard for all things not American is not universal, but a choice. I teach my children of other cultures.


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