Doing Many Things

Great Old Tree, Halifax Public Gardens, Nova Scotia, August 14, 2013.


I don't have to tell you about the demands of life and the many, many things that have to be done and how hard it is to make space and time for anything extra.  I also don't have to tell you the many directions we are pulled in, the many pieces of our lives and how hard it is to make them feel like they belong to a single purpose.  I struggle with this, and I can tell you what is helping me the most. 

A little Photoshop magic...just the edges in this image.

I remember when I worked in a corporation with its insatiable hunger for production, and then I think about trees.  I'm glad that a tree doesn't have to build a measured number of leaves by noon today, according to specified specifications.  Instead, it nourishes its life.  It reaches in every direction.  And wind and sun, moisture and earth conspire, and the wild tree grows, not according to plan, but according to its natural habit.  And it rests in the winter,  gathering its deepest forces.  And then it is spring.  And there come more leaves than can ever be counted - more life, more food, and there is chaos and rhythm and complication, and it makes its own form and then the tree comes into the magnificent perfection of its beauty.

When I'm in the middle of what I could easily call the muddle of my life, it helps me to think about trees.  Their lives are out in the top-most swaying branches.  The light is there, the growing edge is there, the green is there, the pattern, the shaping and unfolding of the story of a life is there.  But the many, many things, the countless, uncounted, uncountable things, return and return to one trunk, to one single center. 

My trunk bears the rings of 58 seasons and the marks of many choices and it feels like I've lived many lives.  My trunk takes its shape from things that have happened and from things that can never happen and what does that come to?  I mean, what am I supposed to do with all of that?  I don't know, but I usually wake up in the morning with one more step I can take.  I know that sometimes when I take a picture or write some words, I feel like everything I've ever learned is in that moment.  Am I wise enough, old enough, strong enough, yet, to do the next thing?  I am.  Can I work back through the twigs and roots and branches?  I can.  Do I know and feel my still and singular center?  I do.

I find it works a bit better... to return to the core of things, even if only for a moment.  There is no revolution here - just a decision to feel the trunk of my body, my feet on the ground, the edge of my skin where it meets the rest of everything, the living silence from which the tree and I both come.  And something tangible to return to... a room, a notebook, a webpage, a picture, my dog's head on my knee, a chair in the sun.  It helps me to hold the edges lightly, to embrace the shape my life has taken, to let details unfold, to pull less tonnage, to let some things take care of themselves.  Enough gets done and things keep growing and energy comes after resting.