I have been struggling to write of late.
It’s not that I don’t have things to say; I have plenty. It’s that some subjects are ones that I’d really like to kick to the curb (like the bullying thing we dealt with) and another subject is too overwhelming to share, so it’s been blocking me from saying anything at all.
It was shown to me this morning though, as I went out to visit my “little gem magnolia” tree that I bought for my husband for a wedding anniversary / father’s day gift a few years ago, that life is about tending to ourselves and loving as best we can and that its moments — the good and the bad — are evanescent.
We had the tree in the front (north) corner of our home. I love to garden, but I hate the technicalities of “needs full sun” or “partial shade.” I can’t be bothered with those details. So when I planted the tree a few years ago in that corner, beneath an eventual canopy of oaks, weeping willow and shade from houses, I sort of knew but denied that the tree was doomed.
I didn’t have the heart to plug it into our backyard, which I knew was shaded once the oak, birch, cherry and poplar leaves filled in.
So a couple years later, I moved it to a southern corner of our house which gets a fair amount of morning sun. It thrived there. The only problem was that it was just beneath an eave, so it was a matter of time: either the tree or the roof.
I loved that tree. My husband loves Magnolias. I knew that a Great Southern Magnolia tree on our property was out of the question as they are massive and well, dirty. But on the day we were wed, twenty years ago tomorrow, the magnolia blooms were abundant outside our little Georgetown church.
So I moved the tree again this spring. We took the slide off our playground set (why any of us buys swing sets is beyond me… the kids just want to be with the parents, our boys have outgrown it. Little kids who visit always end up migrating to the front of our house where the action is) so the tree is now taking up permanent residence in a nice spot which gets at least six hours of sun every day.
Here is a picture of how it’s dealing with its move:
I’ve been very concerned about it. So I’ve taken, in the last three weeks, to giving it one gallon of water every morning; “slow and steady wins the race” as they say and while I’ve been slightly frightened of the dropped leaves, I have been absolutely amazed by the ability of this tree to get its crap together and rally.
Socrates said it best:
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
It’s like us. If we concentrate on what needs to happen, if we stop thinking about what happened to us and remember our goal: thrive and grow and learn and bloom, then we will be ok too. I’ve been so distracted by the bully stuff and old patterns in my behavior that I’ve forgotten the point of all of it: to rally to learn and to stick to myself.
The action of “mewling and puking” as Mom used to say about our past troubles is what gives them life. If we just see them for what they are: feelings about an action, instead of the action or result, then we’re ok.
To wit, Eckhart Tolle:
“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.”
Every Single Person In Our Lives is a teacher.
I don’t care if it’s your spouse or your parent or your sibling or your best friend. Every single one of those people is here to teach you and to teach me — in fact maybe I’m supposed to learn something from you if you comment — how to live better. How to improve and to grow and to face fear and move on. Not shove crap deep away in some hole in our souls, to “man up” or crap like that, but to face it, own it, deal with it and learn — with great humility — from it.
In the case of the things that are bothering me, it’s not the results. It’s the feelings. The results are what needed to happen: self-advocacy, self-assurance, family solidarity, self growth. What the other people do with those situations I can’t be bothered with. It my attachment to an outcome or an expectation of an incident that gets me in trouble.
So back to the tree…
And so, we don’t have to think that growth can take a long time. For humans, it can be instantaneous and just as promising as that tree above. The tree would definitely not do as well if it weren’t for my intervention. It would get along and grow, but it would take a while.
For humans, it’s the same: we need each other. Even in the shitty, hard experiences, we need each other — to learn. To learn how to be more patient, to learn how to SEE THE OTHER PERSON, to learn how to deal with our own mucky crap, to learn how to press on and chin up and as Scarlett O’Hara did at that party Melanie threw after she was caught kissing Ashley (“oh! Ashhhlaay!”) we can hold our heads up high because why?
Because we are still here. And we must learn to go on.
So of course because it’s a plant, plants (trees, whatever) grow mostly at the top. I wasn’t sure of how the magnolia was going to respond to all those dropped leaves. But I do now…
I apologize for the out-of-focus nature of this picture. If you’re feeling nauseated, blame me. If you think you’ve had too much to drink this morning, blame the photo.
I’m so thrilled about this tree. I’ve made my husband come out at look at it at least once a week. He’s usually like this:
Oh cute >pat pat pat< honey, you’ve made a plant grow. >pat pat pat< I’m going to be over here doing something important.
Just kidding. He’s actually pretty into me.
But now these days, he’s totally excited because he knows how much this tree means to me that it means so much to him.
Look, our kids will be out of here in 20,000 years. We will be all alone. With the dogs. And the cats. But the tree will be here and we will have it to gaze upon while our kids are off being fantastic and ignoring us.
So remember what I said about tomorrow being our anniversary and that on the day we wed, the magnolia blossoms were abundant on the trees flanking our church?
Look who’s got some blossoms now y’all!
This tree has shown me: grow where you are planted. Grow any way you can. When you are planted in the best possible circumstances: light, sun, water and some dog poop to boot, you will do well. The dog poop, is not just a literal thing; it’s a metaphor as well: we only grow best when we see, accept and deal with the shit we are standing in.
Think of the shit you’ve had to stand in and deal with and muck through as your manure. Your manure to help turn you into the most amazing person. Because you are.