Among the trees
Gazing into the woods, I see a lonely tree. No nearby trees touching its outstretched leaves, no cheerful birds sit atop its limbs—they have come and gone and only the wind whistles through now. I consider how trees stand lonesome, yet with strength and confidence; and silent fortitude as they endure the storms and the heavy blows.
The darkness of winter
Like each storm that takes its toll on the tree, each blow that we face as humans can leave wounds within us. When this happens, we want to rush the sadness away; fix the sorrowing heart instantly. But grief has a lot in common with love, insofar as these are unstoppable forces, both a symptom of being human.
Moments of sadness are at times paralyzing, because we no longer feel our usual selves, and are unable to locate the zest within. Resembling a storm approaching, the dark feeling enters into us, and we’re frozen in the midst of an uncomfortable transition; like a tree in the midst of winter, naked and subdued, without the affections of spring to draw out its colours.
The intense nostalgia for what was, for the person who warmed your soul, and for who you once were thunders through your whole being, splitting your heart in two, like a tree struck by lightning. Feeling broken, we sometimes know what has happened to us and why we are sad; other times we aren’t sure what it is. In the midst of these times we may not be familiar to our friends and family, we may be hard to be around; we’re grumpy and capricious. But in truth, we’re sad rather than angry, hurting rather than temperamental. Others may be hard on us for this behaviour, but truthfully, we’re even harder on ourselves. We criticize ourselves for how we ought to feel and how we should behave in the face of sadness.
Just as trees do their best to find the strength to hold on through the winter, in these times of struggle we too can be found collecting ourselves through work or other pursuits such as mountain biking, painting or music; burrowing so deep in search of the answer to our current reality—and an attempt to get further away from our feelings.
Change of Seasons
This season has brought me moments of feeling lower than a slug creeping through the trail rut. Akin to the ebbs and flows of mountain biking, there are times in life when you feel like you’re dancing over the features, in total flow, smiling and happy, overflowing with zest; other times it’s as if you’ve gone backwards, nothing is flowing, you’ve lost your balance and feel frustrated and depressed.
I stop my bike on the trail for Kula to have a sniff around and grab a mouthful of water. I take in a deep breath of fresh forest air and listen to the wind whistling through the century-old trees. Adorned with weathered and snagged bark, the giant cedar’s armour carries stories of battles and challenging seasons gone by—a symbol of courage to stare down the worst and carry on. I believe the trees know the heartaches I’ve been through, and I pause to acknowledge that we both have seasons when we flourish and seasons where we are hit by storms that shake us to our bones, and add character to our soul…