While writing Saturday’s piece, I actually looked up what the specific trees I mentioned looked like. The birch is definitely tall and thin and flexible as described—and its bark is incredibly messy. It sheds a huge amount yet leaves behind a beautiful silverish-white trunk in its place. The oak grows kind of wide and stumpy—definitely designed for rigidity. It too, is a mess as it sheds its leaves. But the leaves change brilliant colors in the fall right before they come down. Each tree, while designed to survive and withstand different things is still a tree. They still live, they still have their cycles and patterns—and both leave a mess at some point. The point is life is messy for everyone at some point. There is STILL beauty there in spite of, and in some cases, because of it.
Life isn’t meant to be pretty. The very act of getting here is fraught with blood, shit, sweat, vernix, and nearly every other human fluid possible. Exiting this world is the same. We spend so much time trying to make the middle pretty, to make it palatable, to make it appear a certain way. What happens if we simply ARE? We don’t criticize the trees for following their cycle, for their growth, their annual changes, their shedding. Walking in the woods, we see the fallen trees before and feel the awe of their power even as they lay there. So why is that we are able to appreciate the beauty of the mess of other species but we pretend we don’t have our own?
Life IS messy. The course of living creates a mess. It isn’t something to disguise or hide-we all know of our own messes. We need to be more forthright in sharing that part of our humanity. The point of being alive isn’t to manage the mess on our own, it’s to share that mess and clear the way with others. In the literal sense, I think about the dishes or cleaning the house. If I’m cleaning up after three people alone, that becomes overwhelming, even if I manage a small part every day. But if each person does their part daily, the task is manageable. So if I find myself in a mess, I can reach out to someone. Not that I want them to clean up for me, but I can use their expertise to navigate the situation. We aren’t meant to function in isolation. We don’t need to have it all figured out. We are meant to commune with each other and with the natural cycle of the world.
I’m so grateful I saw the messiness of the trees. I’m also grateful to get out in nature and remind myself I am a part of it. Life will continue no matter where we find ourselves. We have to navigate the path before us and learn to wind with it or blaze a new trail. We all have parts of our lives that seem to “fail” or fall short in some way (in our minds)—we are still beautiful. Life is still beautiful. So while living isn’t meant to be pretty, it IS still pretty because we are simply here. Sometimes that is enough. We made it here in some fluke of chance through astronomical mathematics—that is enough. There is beauty around us every day—that is enough. Creation is destructive and living creates a byproduct—it’s worth it anyway. Take it as it is, learn to see the beauty in living.