What does wind look like?
One of the most beautiful places in the world (to my mind, at least) is the coast of my home state of Georgia. The first time I saw the wind blown trees on the coast of Jekyll Island I was awed at two things. First, the beauty. Second, I was seeing something that could not be seen: wind.
Without trees like those of Jekyll we would not know what the wind looks like, but without the wind, the tree would not take shape.
Such as it is with the brain and the world in which it lives. The brain is shaped by life.
It begs the question: what does life look like?
Life often takes on the shape of the wind of the past and the gusts of today. Every time we fail, succeed, face loss, a bad interaction, an illness, an injury…we reflect it as we grow older.
We take on the shape of life’s wind.
Like trees we are plastic, absorbing, resilient, taking on the shape of the forces that act upon us, absorbing them, and moving on with our lives. We show what life looked like at an earlier time when our lives and age were different. At the Crooked Forest in Poland it is estimated that many years ago a heavy snow period weighed down the trees, forcing a change. The trees still grew, but under the weight, growing down and out until the day they could grow upward. If we are looking for an example of what life looks like, we can look to these trees and see that even in the hardest of times, there is an end. Even when weighted down, the weight will either lift or we can decide (that decide word) to grow our way out from under the weight. We take on the shape of life, it stays with us, but it doesn’t have to make the tree we become…or those trees in Poland would have never grown up, only sideways, giving up under the weight.
For me, trees are fascinating. I’ve always been slightly obsessed with trees in my life. From the pines in the woods near my childhood home to the Redwoods of Northern California, I will climb, hug, touch, admire a tree, big or small. When I was a kid I wanted a bonsai tree. On a trip to visit my brother in California, I finally got my wish. I bought a bonsai tree at the Irvine Spectrum for $100. I felt like I was the Karate Kid as I flew back to Atlanta. I’m pretty sure everyone on the plane thought I was pretty stupid, cradling my tree, but for me…I had something really cool. When I got it home I pruned that beautiful little tree.
I used to spend hours on that tree, trying to create something I saw once in a movie. I wired it up, trying to make it look a particular way. I would clip this branch, use a zip-tie on that branch, put it in the sun for a few days on one side but not the other. I pruned, controlled, and manipulated that little bonsai tree to death.
I controlled it so much I killed it.
Anyone who has been in a bad relationship, like those with parents growing up or with a mate in adulthood, knows how that little tree felt. For this is the worst of life’s circumstances, when it is not life’s wind that we reflect, but those circumstances in our lives that restrain and hold us back. For a moment look at your life. Are you restrained in your actions by other’s expectations, or are you restraining someone? Could you be just a little bit better at a hobby if you didn’t have to work so much due to financial constraints? Is there someone in your life binding your capabilities because if you were to do what you really want to do with your life…it would damage the relationship? Is that the kind of relationship you should have?
What about the amount of time you’ve been restrained, controlled, manipulated like the tree above? If you were to try to bend those branches to look that way, the branch would break (trust me, I tried with mine). Instead, over time, the tree is restrained, molded, made into what someone else wants.
Sadly, the tree never knows the difference…and many times, we don’t either.
Like a little bonsais tree, we grow into our directional wires…we grow into our restraints.
It doesn’t happen over night, it happens over time. With every minute the past goes by, shaping your brain. Do you grow large, giant, unrestrained, swaying with the wind and snow as it comes…or do you grow into your restraints and allow life, and others, to control and manipulate you?
We grow into the restrains and chains for so long we forget what life was like before now, we fear it, it was so bad…that’s why you are here, safe, right? Right? As I talk about in OPEN IN CASE OF LIFE (sign up to get it!), we lose the contrast over time. We forget what it was like to grow free and wild. Are you a great oak, or a bonsai?
Like the trees of Jekyll, or the tree of Crooked Forest…to reflect life in our appearance, not the restraints of another’s life placed upon us like the bonsai.
Without the tree we wouldn’t see the wind…what does your life tree show?