Monday, June 05, 2006

Life As a Tree

As we think of moving from this place, it has become obvious to me that living here has changed me. In fact, each place we have lived has changed me in one way or another.

Years ago I had a dream that my life was like a patchwork quilt - a crazy quilt, full of rich patches that didn't necessarily match but that, stitched together, made for a beautiful whole.

That dream came at a time when I was trying to decide whether to take on a new responsibility, a rather demanding volunteer commitment. As those of you who know me probably realize, after the dream I decided to accept the position and I have been tilting at windmills through volunteer commitments ever since!

But I digress.

Even if my life seems like a crazy quilt, I personally feel more like a tree. Like a plant of any sort, I've been formed and molded by my environment. Sometimes that has been positive, sometimes negative...and often, it's just been what it was.

Sometimes, to amuse myself, I wonder what species of tree I am most like. Cottonwood has come to mind - quick-growing, easy to transplant, sparkling and graceful (I wish!), but brittle, despite its appearance of strength, and short-lived. I'd love to think I could be classified as a live oak or a bur oak, but I don't have the gravitas for either of those species. Maybe a red oak? Not particularly outstanding, but stalwart and stable and reliable. Able to live and thrive in a variety of habitats.

What pruning and fertilizing has occurred here in this patch of my life? I have become a gardener, and I have found fertile soil for myself in the company of other gardeners. I have learned the regenerative power of a positive focus and the wilting power of a negative one. I have learned the pleasure of a large group of friends getting together to celebrate, and I have come to strongly appreciate the talents of those who can make celebrations happen gracefully and beautifully.

On the more difficult side, I have learned the pain of being too far from most of my family (but also the joy of being reconnected with family members that had grown apart). I have tried to learn the difficult art of doing my best and then just letting life (and Mother Nature) take its course. For better or for worse, I am learning - again - the difficult art of working hard and doing my best, but not being able to ultimately accomplish a deeply desired goal. And along with those last two lessons, I am trying to learn to keep trying without getting discouraged, hoping to have moved ahead two steps for every step that gets taken backwards.

Overall, though, this has been an enriching environment for me, and I hope to take its richness with me as I move into the next habitat patch of my life. Most of all, I hope to have absorbed this richness thoroughly enough to pass it along to others in the future - my life has been made brighter here and I'd love to be able to brighten other people's lives in similar ways.

Pollyanna-ish? Probably. But I'm okay with that.

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