Growing Through It All

Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata on

While driving back from shopping on Saturday, an amazing feeling washed over me.  I don’t know if it was the weather (it was a PERFECT fall day in every sense of the word) or if it was the conversation with my husband about moving forward with our lives…or even the breakfast I had that kept me in check.  But something in that moment took hold—it most certainly wasn’t FROM me—it was TO me.  As we drove along, there was an evergreen with a tree growing through it.  The deep green of the pine surrounded the fading lime-green/yellow of the other tree, two separate entities now one.  That little tree pushing through was determined to make it work.  I don’t know how it happened, whether a wind accidentally dropped a latent seed and the tree grew through the dark of the evergreen, or if they were planted too close together—but somehow these trees were thriving, intertwined with one another.

So the “revelation” for lack of a better word was that these trees are a perfect metaphor for my life on several levels.  I’m becoming who and what I was meant to be and I’m growing through the shell of my old life.  I need to settle down enough to allow life to happen.  We’ve been in our new house for four months and I’ve pushed and pushed to “settle” in so I’m comfortable.  But the things that make me comfortable don’t fit in with what we have here.  That ISN’T a bad thing.  I’ve struggled to make the new what I knew before when I needed to learn what is.  I needed to settle in to what IS rather than forcing it to be what it was. And that is my life in a nutshell—I have to stop rushing.  In the effort to control the outcome and to “know” everything that is coming (because knowing is comfortable), I’m forcing things to be what they aren’t and I’m missing the lessons that are there.

Those trees also showed me that there are more ways to grow into our own skins and be comfortable than using defense mechanisms (control) to give the illusion of comfort/being on top of things.  My entire life has been a series of rapid-fire changes, drama, and loss.  No, that isn’t the whole story and I’ve been very fortunate overall, however, the times I experienced all of those things was formative for me.  As a child, I never had the chance to develop my own identity because as soon as I thought I knew, something shifted and I had to adapt.  I was never allowed to settle into me.  So I sought control and things that made me comfortable.  I liked order in the sense of knowing and being prepared for my day and I liked completion in the sense of forming my collections and prizes to keep me “safe” because having it all meant I wouldn’t be surprised and I wasn’t behind.  But letting it all go and allowing the things that are meant for us to land makes it easier to accept the changes.      

It was also interesting to think of the two types of trees, once independent, now needed each other to survive.  I’m sure those root systems are completely woven together at this stage of the game.  When we build our lives near someone else or with someone else, it is the same.  While you remain separate beings, there are facets that become dependent on each other whether you like it or not.  Two beings that are as different as can be can still find a common ground to grow from.  I like to think that helps them thrive, although, after 20 years with the same person, I know that isn’t always the case.  But when you shift and learn to see things from the other’s perspective, you can learn how to support each other.  We all need different things to thrive so it’s about learning what the other person needs and making sure they know what you need.  It is absolutely give and take.  I see how important it is to know yourself even if you decide to root with someone else.      

So when I think of those trees, I am hopeful.  I am learning to settle and adapt to reality.  There is chaos in this world, no denying it, but we are able to navigate that with more ease when we stay open to what is.  In searching for safety, we look for familiar things but sometimes what is familiar was only meant to get us to a certain point and we were supposed to grow from there.  For me, some of those lessons were too short and I don’t feel like I had enough time before I was thrust into something else.  But I have to trust that the universe wouldn’t have moved me forward if I wasn’t ready.  As I’m learning now, that was more reason than anything to appreciate what we have while we have it and to be as present as possible.  Time moves quickly and it only moves forward so we can learn to adapt and make the best, and when we do that, we will thrive.

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