|Trees grow in the forest near Gryfino, Poland---cause unknown|
(Unknown origin of photo)
These trees have learned to bend for some unknown reason. They have chosen not to topple over but to resist the force that prompted them to bend in the same direction and carry on growing upward. And do you notice that they all have bent in the same direction? The "happiness" of one tree is linked to that of the other trees.
Trees have been on my mind lately especially since the latest storm hit our area. Our previous home was built in a bit of a clearing at the top of a knoll, yet still there were trees all around us and in the 38 years that we lived there, slowly B removed trees from around the house; partly to use as fuel in the wood stove and partly because every time there was a huge wind, rain, or snow storm trees would topple, not bend. I never slept during these storms, always listening for that first "snapping" sound that is the precursor to the falling. It was no different for me here the last couple of nights.
The master bedroom sits in a corner of the house that is surrounded by tall pine trees. I don't have much experience with pine tree behavior since we didn't have very many of them at our previous home. We had everything else: madrone, oak, cedar, fir----yet the pines were very distant and in a cluster on the knoll to our north. And they never fell as far as I remember unless they were diseased. Yet these trees that cluster here around the master bedroom make me worry. And worry to me equates to sleep loss.
The weather seems to be in the news again this week. Tornadoes, high winds, snow melt in some areas causing mud slides, snowfall in other areas causing ice. As hard as Meteorologists try they can never actually predict what the weather is really going to do. And so I placed a pillow over my ears to muffle the sounds of the high winds whipping in the tops of the pine trees and as soon as I did that, I could fall asleep. It took the sound away from that place in my mind that makes me worry and allowed me to relax. Sometimes what you don't know won't hurt you. And that is the tact that I took. I know...it sounds a little like the ostrich burying its head in the sand but really, I think it allowed me to bend. I didn't have to be so rigid and frightened. Just go with the flow as the saying goes.
In reflecting about the destructive behavior of the weather I am tempted to want to control it in some way, like the swaying pine trees here at my home. Yet, I know it is beyond anything that I can do. I can't control circumstances or other people (which was recently pointed out to me by my new neighbor) but I can train my mind to see clearly. It is the premise behind what I have been reading with my book group: mindfulness.
Mindfulness gives us the tools we need to help us be truly present. It allows us to find the gratitude in others that touch us.
I find similarities in the behavior of trees and relationships. In "Awakening Joy" James Baraz says that "Relationships can bring us so much joy, yet can so easily occasion anger, disappointment, sorrow and unhappiness. But as we've seen throughout this course, what is happening inside us is far more important than what is happening "our there". The trees that most of the year shade our house, provide protection for birds, and sway gently in the breeze can sometimes sway violently in the wind, drop branches on the ground, and sometimes fall because they could not bend. I am trying, at this point in my life, to learn to bend and to "...work with our [my] pain and sorrow when things don't go our [my] way or people disappoint us [me]."
And this from the Dalai Lama: "It is important to understand how much your own happiness is linked to that of others. There is no individual happiness totally independent of others."