This tree was one such find. At some point, no doubt when young and malleable, the trunk got tangled somehow and it grew with this perfect twist. It grew. Perfectly well. Perfectly imperfect.
It was there, many years later, sporting its history, reaching up to the sky, waiting for spring to kick start it into abundant life again.
Even at the time I spotted the lesson. Perhaps it was the presence of ageing parents who collectively sport two new hips and a knee replacement – still out walking in the January cold. Or my own scars and (ever increasing number of) wrinkles which look back at me from the mirror every day. Still here. Badges of honour one might say. And for the less visible scars, the hurting, the emotional challenges, the trauma, all of which have shaped me and my family.
We are, each of us, in our own way imperfect. And yet perfect. Just like everything else in nature. Nature shows us that there is no stencil, no template, no paint by numbers. Nature is messy and all the more joyous for us. Like so many other circumstances, we have become so completely disconnected from nature that we are now largely oblivious to the lessons it provides. We are nature, not apart from it, and so our scars, our imperfections and our stories are not things of which to be ashamed or hidden away. They are what they are. They have made us what we are. That we have survived them and kept growing is a testament to us and what we can do. Not something of which we should be ashamed. We grow forth like the tree in the woods, reaching up, embracing the things that took us to that point even if they do not fit the “norm” or make us seem less than perfect.
Airbrushing out the imperfections is a bit like the feeling you get walking through the gardens of a stately home. Yes, it’s lovely but we all know it’s not the real deal. I give a nod to the twisted tree when I pass. Long may it grow forth in imperfection. And long may we do the same.
“When you go out into the woods, and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.
The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying ‘You are too this, or I’m too this.’ That judgment mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.”
― Ram Dass