I think if at any point in your day you were able to look and find beauty, then it was a successful day. I often look toward the trees for inspiration — scabs and scars upon their backs and bellies; symbols of growth, time doing its telling. I ponder just how far their roots must stretch into the dirt, providing firm footing for me to tread upon, casting a woven blanket upon the earth. And yet they reach — branches like arms, twigs for fingers — they beckon to the sun, mercilessly pleading to be closer. Intertwining and connecting without even touching, each limb of the same tree which came from a single seed planted there in the ground; buried to be forgotten, yet look what came to be!
“I’m married to the ocean,”
a sailor once said to me.
“My heart wandered by the shore
and became a captive of the sea.
Sand beneath my feet,
I have sank into the depths of her.
I close my eyes,
let myself go,
and drift with abandon upon her tide.
The ground below quickly becomes
the sky above my head
As she pulls me ever further
into her womb
And surrounds me with her love.
Never was it so easy
to think myself worthy
of such a genuine embrace;
Allowing me to float away so freely,
Welcoming me always
as though I had never left.”
With one more quick breath
he turned to bid farewell,
Stepped out into his beloved’s
returning like a mollusk
to her warm shell
I see her — the wolf mother. I see her as I see myself. She stands, stoic; a look of fierceness in her eyes. She’s strong and beautiful; a blazon spirit, tender in heart. But do not dare threaten the young she protects lest you fall into her snare. You then will find yourself pitted deep below the peel of the earth. She will unravel you, slowly without equivocation, sinking her teeth within the flesh of you, ripping you apart. All that could sustain her she spits back out again, for no trace of evil must enter in. She is to remain pure and undeterred. She is the righter of wrongs. She is the wolf mother. She knows no other than to carry on.
We all come from struggle. Even the cherry blossom. Therefore, dismissing someone as not worthy of our care or attention is a pretentious way of perceiving the world. Even a crude person can have surprisingly tender moments; just as the kindest of creatures are sometimes naturally inclined to bite back at others.
We may contest upon meeting someone and even after interacting with them on a daily basis that we know them. But this isn’t necessarily so. In fact, I would argue that this is rarely the case. It is even possible to fall in love with a stranger; someone who reveals little of who they truly are. Which begs the question: When we love someone, who and what exactly are we drawn to? Which parts? Surely not every part. Because we can’t know every part.
Some parts can only be exposed under certain conditions and situations. Sometimes–most times–the worst parts of ourselves are brought out only by the people we love and trust most. And I think, this is how it’s supposed to be. If we can’t be our worst selves with someone, how are we ever to find true and lasting love? How are we to reach our highest potential? When a tree grows toward the heavens, its roots must extend further into the earth. Its outer layers must be shed as its inner core widens and strengthens. No one can blame a tree for dropping its leaves only to make way for new ones. Sure, you curse them in the Fall when you find yourself picking up after them, creating hours of back intensive labor. But what about the Summer, where in their shade you find solace from the sun? What do you say of the tree and its foliage then?
We cannot expect for love to fall into our laps, suddenly and without hindrance, or to remain static and full of blissful optimism. Love is a process. It can blind you, surprise you, and lead you astray. Love goes through phases, just as a tree must. It has its Winters as well as its Springs.
This is a lesson that has been reinforced for me time and time again. After a long hard Winter, you don’t stay inside your cave, shunning the warmth of the sun now permeating the atmosphere. You step outside to greet the light shining upon your walls, heating what was once cold and crystallized, rejuvenating life once again. You are grateful for the deep slumber only Winter allows, aware of its greater purpose. You feel ready and eager to respond to the world as nature intended, prepared for any struggle you are determined to stand triumphant against. And ready to bite back when necessary. To survive in love, you must be prepared for Winter even as you welcome Spring.