One of my favorite differences between human being and trees is how I, as a human, can move around.
Trees are rooted. Definitively. Trees stay in the same spot. The choices for trees are narrow. Up and out are how trees move. And by ‘move’ I mean grow. They grow slowly and so they move slowly I have a lot more options. Since I don’t have roots, I can go backwards and forwards and even jump levels. Up down and all around.
What mostly happens though, is I keep going forward in the direction decided long ago.
Those choices I talked about last week? For my tree, they are permanent. The other trunks are cut off and will be no more. The tree is set in its course.
For me though, I could use the leg up that the choice gave me and get very good at the one direction I’ve chosen.
I could grow and expand in ways I hadn’t dreamed up, getting strength and capabilities that were far out of reach before. I could get so good at all of it that it even gets boring.
Then, as I human I might make an exploration into that choice I’d abandoned.
Is there something there for me now? Now that I’ve become so strong and capable? What could happen if I came at this again?
Since I’m not a tree, it’s not a dead branch. It could be a possibility now.
I’ve got different skills. I’m not the same as I was when I had to abandon it before.
This could be the right time for what was wrong before.
I can explore my world in human ways and see what I can make of it. What moves can I make now with what I’ve got? Neither I nor the world have remained the same.
We planted a very small tree in our front yard. I’ve puttered over it, and watered it special during the drought. I pondered what it might need. When it was first planted, it had four stems. More like a bush.
I agonized over trimming it, but finally cut it down to a single tunk.
It was a very hard choice. The first shoot I cut was obviously not going to be the primary trunk of the tree. I didn’t regret cutting that one.
That left three choices. Would the tree pick a favorite?
With all the care I was giving it, I thougt it would be growing faster. It seemed stunted. Maybe it was the drough. I finally cut one more.
There remained only two. I let that tree sit for more than a year. It was only as tall as me, a small skinny stick. When was this tree going to look like a tree?
I’d seen a lot of trees with two trunks. I thought maybe this tree could be one of those. But it wasn’t doing much.
We hung in limbo.
Time passed. The tree wasn’t growing. It seems perfectly content to remain as it was.
The time had come, as keeper of this tree, for me to make a decision.
A choice had to be made.
It was hard. The two shoots looked the same. How could I choose one over the other?
But this tree wasn’t fulfilling its destiny as a tree.
I made the cut. One side only.
Except it wasn’t even a side. It was the tree.
That’s when the miracle happened. The tree began to grow. It even grew over the tiny stump left from my cut.
That’ make all the difference. Now the tree is taller than house.
“I am running out of pants,” he said. “This last pair of jeans has a hole in it. Do you think you could patch it?”
I’ve sewn on buttons. I’ve hemmed a skirt, and even sewn entire dresses. But patching a pair of jeans is a new level. Like darning socks, it’s a lost art. Do people do that anymore?
During the lockdown, a lot of people did old fashioned things. All across America, households were experimenting with sourdough starter and making bread with it. We’ve been released from our homes, but then again we find ourselves on the bad side of supply chain issues and inflation.
I know I hoarded plastic containers during that time—you never know what you might need. And yes, I am still doing it a little. There is a lot of life in that quart container of yogurt. I kept it and it is doing a great job holding prepared rice in my fridge.
I want to save those Levi’s. They are perfectly—well almost perfectly—good. I am going to patch them.
Owning things is a responsibility. I have a relationship and an obligation to them. I honestly appreciate things more. I have to notice what is going on with things and see if I can provide help when they need it.
I really appreciate the things that work exactly as I need them to.
A good pair of Levi’s is needing a little help, and I will put some effort into providing it.
In this case, it’s not just the jeans that need help. It’s my husband. He knows less about sewing than I do. For all the things that Chris does for me, I will help him. And for all the things that the pants do for him—for us, really—I can give a little back. They can be repaired and give back to us for a few more years.
Good relationships take attention and investment. It’s shame to give up too soon.
I am writing this on International Woman’s Day. And for particularly female reasons I am sending it on the same day.
I first learned of this holiday when I was 19 in Russia. I loved how it was celebrated and I wanted to remember it always.
It is an independent holiday. I didn’t need anyone else to bring it up, I am a woman and it belongs to me.
Other people can come alongside and celebrate me, and they are welcome. But I already have everything I need as a woman to recognize myself.
It is also an opportunity to celebrate the other women around me. Women I admire, and women I appreciate. It is so easy to celebrate them—in this context it is a way of celebrating myself.
Women, women everywhere! Look at what she’s done. Look at what I can do!
And even more important look at who we are.
I am a woman. I have strengths and struggles. I have weaknesses and triumphs.
I’d like to be stronger and triumph more. I’ll see if I can work towards that.
I am connected to those around me, my family, friends and community. I would like to add to their benefits and be more than a burden. I hope that all of us can more towards more strength and triumphs.
I carry myself through my life. This is the day –the quote Whitman, “I sing the song of myself”
And because I am woman, I also sing the song of everyone.