Wishing I Could Be A Taller Tree
Understanding myself from a different perspective
Before my son was born, I used to take regular meditative walks in urban and natural environments. Each week, I would walk for up to ten hours. During this time in my life, my Fitbit was very happy with my results. Now, fast forward to having a kid, my Fitbit and I are at a different stage in our relationship.
Although my son is now five and capable of walking, he is not the most eager to go on hikes with me. Especially when those hikes are meditative in focus. Though, being honest, he is five… Practically, he has an attention span just outpacing a goldfish.
Additionally, having a bouncing and energetic kid who could either get lost or drift into traffic tends to raise one’s anxiety levels. Needless to say, this can be pretty disruptive when your goal is to drift along into meditative deep dives.
Being aware of the need and situational concerns, I decided to take an independent approach, and recently I took myself for a return to nature hike. After not having gone on a nature walkabout for a few years, this two-hour-long walk in nature was beyond spectacular — it was awesome.
The landscapes outside of the forest boundaries were covered in snow. Throughout the grassy and swampy areas, shoots of tan-colored, dried-out blades of grass and reeds waved in the chilly blowing air.
Deep within the forest, the land was lightly salted by snow which was able to reach the ground floor. Elsewhere upon the forest’s floor were sticks, logs, fallen trees, pine needles, and trail paths made by man or by the animals that lived there.
While I had not been on a meditative walk for a few years, the previously well-practiced rhythm and methods quickly returned to me. As I walked through the snowy fields and into the depths of the forest, I could feel the natural energies all around me flowing from their sources and into my chest.
Finding my way to the heart of the forest, I was struck by an obvious observation I had not appreciated on my many walks before. Surrounded all around me were trees that varied in sizes. Some were so tall they seemed as if they could scrap the sky while others were short; no higher than my ankle. Observing this bifurcation of age growth, I had an epiphany in relation to this dichotomy and how it compares to my own life and pursuits.
Empathizing with the smaller trees who were stretching as far as they could to reach the little sunlight which evaded the massive growth of their elders, I realized how my own life in the arts was in a sort of similar juxtaposition.
Being that I am very new, ankle-high by comparison to many of my established contemporaries, I am respectfully aware of those who are advanced in their own artistic careers. More importantly, being aware that these professionals have been in their growth for many more years than my few passive start-stop attempts.
Though to gain an even deeper insight into the dynamics of this observation, I laid down upon the ground with a newer shoot just to the left of my eye. Looking up from its vantage point, I saw the dizzying experience of the massive few but thick tree elders high above us. Through their stretched-out limbs, only a few little holes of blue sky could be seen.
While laying here, feeling small and lacking the experience of life as these stronger figures towered over us, I felt insecure. About my future in art, about the time it would take me to get as experienced as my contemporaries, and if there would be any room for me between these massive bodies already taking up all of the skies.
As this honest anxiety rose within me, I allowed it to speak without challenge and then to flow through and out of me. While I do feel these strong anxious concerns over my future career in the arts, I accept that I have no real control over the outcome other than showing up to do the work.
Like anything else in life, the restrictions we experience are most regularly those we place upon ourselves. So, I changed the narrative. While lying upon the ground, I looked up and searched for the little pockets of the sky that would open to me as the wind passed through the higher canopy. Most gracious, though, were the few moments where not only would I see the sky but the light from the sun too.
Up there, where previously I felt the space was too thick for me to join, I realized that there was space and that there will always be space made available to anyone willing to stick with their practice.
By changing the narrative, I saw my future growth achieved through active persistence. I accepted that my future is up there; just like this little shoot’s future. Though it is a tree and I am human, we both strive for our place in the light; to be seen and recognized. And, just like the little tree which grows over time into one of these elders, we each can achieve this if we are patient and persistent.
While this awareness is encouraging, I feel it is equally important that I share the other part of this awareness I gained from this vantage point. While this shoot and I reached up for the sky, imagining the greatness of our futures, the reality is — we both are weak; we both are not yet ready for the weather which comes with such a high position, status. Up there, while enjoying many days of the sun’s warmth, there will be times of great battering from future storms.
If this shoot and I are to be equals to these massive elders high above us, we must also be ready for the turbulent times that come with such status; something that both it and I are not yet ready for. One day, but not now.
So, again, we will grow, we will learn, and we will strengthen; and, one day, we will be up high, shoulder to shoulder with our regularly practiced contemporaries. There we will be; ready for the sun and ready for the storms to come.
We each will achieve greatness, soon enough; we just need to stay persistent and stay disciplined.
Be well, my friends.
Hey my friends!
I am starting another art project. This one is focusing on artists of all kinds where I interview them. I plan to make a series of these interviews and to call them collectively Dreaming While Awake. The point of these interviews is to better understand the artist’s focus, discipline methods, hopes, dreams, projects, and what they are moving towards.
For those interested, please reach out to me through one of my various connections shared in my LinkTree down below!