This week’s exercise was to take time each day to notice trees. At first I thought that this exercise would have been more fun during the summer or the fall, when the trees were covered with leaves. On the first day of the exercise I looked out the window and saw bare, dead-looking trees and I felt disappointed.
But then I realized that the trees are amazing right now. During the summer or fall I would have focused on the leaves, seeing only the over-all effect of the canopy of leaves or the burnt colors in the fall. But with the leaves stripped away, I saw the structure of the tree. I saw the tree for what it really is.
Gnarled, imperfect, misshapen: trees are fighters. Each knot and bit of broken bark is a scar, a souvenir from an infection or an injury. Sometimes the branches have grown around obstacles, adapting and pushing on despite challenges. In the cold of a December day, the bare trees stand alone against the elements. They look naked and barren, but they’re not. The hard, rough bark protects the life inside the tree.
Once I began to focus on the trees in this way, I discovered the hidden underside of even the evergreens that are still full and green.
Because, although the bare deciduous trees and the evergreens look so different right now, underneath they look remarkably similar.
We can learn a lot from the trees, about our similarities, the hidden struggles we all face, and the fact that, in spite of it all, we have to persevere, we have to fight on, day after day.
This week’s exercise is: “Rest Your Hands: Several times a day let your hands relax completely.”