I’ve never been spoken to by a tree before or perhaps, more accurately, I’d never paid attention sufficiently to hear what they were saying! But when I deliberately and consciously direct my awareness, and let go of my ideas about how difficult it’s going to be, I find there’s good conversation to be had, and in this case some useful insights which I’ve accepted, embraced and incorporated into my way of working.
The following is an extract from my journal, written as soon as I returned home from this walk. What makes it ‘real’ for me is that there are things here I’d never thought of; I couldn’t have sat down and written this myself – these are not my ideas, not at all the way I looked at things before these conversations.
I ventured out to journey in, heading towards the Cot Valley, its cliffs and beaches, but nature, it seems, had other ideas. I was stopped along the way by the sight of a new adventure. A cave, half glimpsed among the trees beside the road. I ventured in, drawn by the energy of the place and found a path, little trodden, but clear to my sense of discovering.
The cave turned out not to be a cave but a trick of the light and shadow, but it acted as a sign that pointed to the cave that was indeed right next to it. A cave, man-made perhaps, its purpose, if so crafted, lost to time, yet it fitted my needs perfectly and so, perhaps, this was, and is, its purpose. A shelter from the elements, yet intimately connected in its space, it welcomed me and invited me in to stop and sit a while.
Once settled on the dry and feeling connected to the energy of the place I turned my awareness to my physical surroundings. I noticed a small, leafy plant growing on the floor of the cave in front of me. The round leaves looked like they might be more at home on water, yet clearly it was quite at home this far from the passing stream. I thanked the plant for letting its spirit enter my awareness and started to imagine what it must be like to be this plant. The plant liked to spread; it rooted down into the earth and grew up into the light but, above all, it spread. It said that there was strength in breadth, not only in depth, but also in the width, that to spread widely increased the chances of finding new opportunities, new life, new avenues and areas to explore and grow into.
I asked how I should structure my work and play according to this philosophy and the plant said to send out shoots, to tentatively explore new possibilities to see if they worked for me. If the new ground was good then I should put down some roots to ground my energy there and cultivate this new knowledge, letting it flourish and blossom into something strong and vibrant. If the new ground was not to my liking then I could simply withdraw my attention from it and let it whither away without affecting my core. If the new growth took hold then it would become integrated and part of who and what I was in time, and would add to my strength.
I thanked the plant for its wisdom and turned my attention to a tree* growing outside the mouth of the cave. I imagined what it would be like to be the tree and felt roots growing deep, down into the nourishing earth, but also spreading wide, seeking out new opportunities. I felt myself growing tall and strong, reaching upward, ever upward, towards the light. It was important, the tree said, to always be reaching, not necessarily to be the tallest, but always to be reaching. To reach the light, to see the light, it was necessary to be seen.
I asked the tree how I should work and it said that I should let there be seasons. The seasons would be there anyway, so I should embrace them and work with them as trees did; even the evergreens worked with the seasons, it’s just that the others make it more obvious that they are following a cycle of growth, celebration, harvest, letting go, regathering and rejuvenation for new growth.
The tree said that I should follow a similar pattern, that it was, in fact, already there and that I should embrace it rather than battling against it. There would be periods of learning, working inwardly, gathering of resources, contemplating and working things out. Then there would be a time of new growth, of bring this new work out into the world, reaching upward to allow it to be seen. Then, when it is seen, I also receive the light of recognition; this is the celebration and harvest. Then follows a time of letting go of what no longer is needed or useful, in time for a return inward for the repeating of the cycle. I thanked the tree for this wisdom and prepared for my journey home.
* as you may have guessed, I’m no botanist! I have little interest in labeling, I simply see, and allow myself to be touched by, the beauty of these and all natural, living things.
Tree. Plant. Beautiful. I like simplicity too.
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