Make like a tree and…stay

What? Were you expecting the word “leave” instead of stay? I mean, where are you going? It’s ten (?) weeks into this sheltering at home thing and I’m starting to get really anxious about not being able to leave my house, my city, my state… and I don’t like feeling stuck. Ever. It’s one of my most fundamental aversions. I have always tried to maintain the ability to, using the current word of the moment, pivot. If a door closes, I’m usually pretty good at finding a window to crawl through. You know, I’m a survivor and all that.

Perhaps you noticed, I didn’t mention “country” in the itemization above of places I’m anxious to leave. This omission was intentional, because the way I’m feeling about leaving the country is beyond anxious. I’m actually quietly freaking out because, for the first time in 30 years, I’m lacking a valid passport. Set to expire in April, my passport renewal was submitted in March and received by the State Department March 13th. Distressingly, the status has remained “in process” since then, causing me to feel incredibly uncomfortable.

Recently, though, a friend posted a picture of a tree that had grown in an unexpected way. The tree had been diverted from its original path of growth by an obstacle of some sort. Instead of withering or ceasing to grow, the tree bent to accommodate the presence of the unexpected. It’s such an inspiring image, don’t you think?

Image: jamespreller.com

I remembered a particular tree near where I once lived as a child. The trunk had a hairpin turn that must have been caused by the presence of something no longer existing. Whatever had once been there and caused the tree to adapt the shape it now held, was long gone. The tree, though, eventually continued its stretch to the sky, as the trunk resumed its former path straight up.

Since my friend’s post and the reminder of my childhood awe for the resilience of trees, I’ve been paying closer attention to what the trees are communicating during my long walks. As my dog and I roam the trails at Capital Hills, I’m noting trees whose paths have been temporarily interrupted and others who have nestled into the embrace of another as they both seek room to grow. Witnessing nature’s response to the challenges of coexistence and shared space has provided solace during this lengthy period of forced isolation.

I’m looking to the trees for guidance in the hopes that they’ll share with me their graceful commitment to their own personal path during this time when I want my life to continue in the direction I desire, unimpeded. Their modeling of resilient adaptation, while remaining rooted to earth, will provide consolation until I’m able to resume my own personal travels and, once again, leave.

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