Trees. I love them. I’ve probably banged on about my affinity with all things natural and simple on here before, but once I started to take notice of the natural world around me, I kept seeing similarities and connections everywhere. As I’m typing this blog post, for example, BBC Radio has just mentioned that my home city has the most trees of any in Europe. See? Coincidence. Connections.
Take the Banyan tree, known as ‘the tree of many feet’. This is because of the way its many roots spread. Sacred in Hinduism, the Banyan is grounded, fixed to the earth by a multitude of connections. For this reason, it is often seen in images reflecting practises from the East, such as Yoga.
When I began a regular Yoga practise, I felt like I had finally come home. That sounds like something new-age-y, I know, but it was the truth. It was like I had turned a switch and finally realised what I should have been doing with my body for my whole life previously. I very much define my life and my body in before Yoga and after Yoga terms.
It wasn’t just the Yoga itself, but that once I started on that path, I began to look at every area of my personal being. My attitudes to ageing, to health, to my writing life.
Or there’s the cherry blossom. The Japanese see cherry blossom as representing the passage of time, transcience, impermanence, and mortality.
I recently wrote a piece on here about facing the changes brought about by my eldest going off to university. I’ve also just had a birthday, which always beings about a bit of internal reflection. It can often feel disheartening when another year passes and we maybe feel we haven’t achieved goals we may have set. I should have finished that manuscript by now…I hoped to be earning more from my writing by now… and so on.
The Danish have a phrase which is considered a high compliment, manhviler sig selv, which means someone who rests in him- or her-self. Essentially being happy in one’s own skin. Maybe being happy with the type of writer I am, appreciating the successes I have had and seeking out more, but in my own time and my own way. It’s all about balance, about the harmony between what we want and what we need.
It used to bother me that there were grey hairs beginning to appear, and that lines were creeping around my eyes when I smiled. Yet, spending more time in nature has made me look anew at the negative way we assimilate women’s looks and women’s lives.
Then I read about the Silver Birch. These trees have smooth, perfect trunks when young saplings. Their barks grow rough and broken when mature, however, just like our own skin can do. Yet, we don’t pull them from the ground, assuming them to be of no more use. We cherish trees and woodlands the older they get.
In this, as in many ways, we maybe could learn important lessons from the natural world.