Friday, November 17, 2017

A thing I learned in November about trees, leaves and love.

Here are some brave
 trees showing their bark.
I love November.

Last week, I watched a storm of leaves swirling outside my window. My cat Gus darted left and right on the sill, trying to follow the path of each one that broke free and sailed into the air.  

I wonder why some leaves hang on so much longer than others, but for now, those sturdy trees and their twisty, intricate branches are stark and without cover.  Against the November sky, the contrast is striking or poetic, depending on how you wish to view it.

You see where I'm going with this, right?   

Several years ago, when all of my siblings and I were busy with marriage and kids and the general chaos of life's middle third, we saw each other at usual intervals, the Fourth of July, on Christmas Eve, etc. 

We were together enough to have conversations and enjoy each other, but while our lives grew bigger and richer with each year, we didn't necessarily know each other better, it seemed to me.

That's common.

But, at some point it began to bother me that if I'd been given a quiz about the pivotal  things in the lives of all of my siblings  - what they were thinking about, struggling with, conquering - I wasn't sure I'd pass. 

Disclosure, sharing the things that make you the tree you really are, evolves of  trust and history of course. But ask any tree, when you disclose, you lose your leaves and then, there you are with your  bark showing, making you vulnerable to the elements: judgment, approval, criticism. 

Not showing your bark isn't untrue. For some of us, probably most of us, it's more comfortable to show our leaves. But it is true, that when you do let it show, you're trading vulnerability for the possibility of being loved by someone who is trying to shed their own leaves. 

We are all vulnerable, under our leaves

about something.

We are also capable of accepting

when someone needs it.

and of forgiving.

when someone asks for it.

After our younger brother died, and my sister-in-law lost her mother, some of us gathered for the first time to celebrate Thanksgiving together. There were seventeen of us. We laughed and told stories, and if different and busy lives had made us unfamiliar with each other's day to day,  it was not evident that day, nor has it been since.

I lost a lot of leaves that Thanksgiving, and more over the years and months that followed in all of my relationships. Pretty regularly, I think about everyone more, and more than I wonder what they are thinking about, struggling with and conquering, I ask them to tell me. 

I love November.

I love the way we shed those leaves, easy ones first, harder ones later. If it feels risky and cold at times, you know that in the spring, your cover will be new and fresh and lovely and your bark will be happier, too.

Ask any tree. Good things happen when you aren't covered in old, expired leaves anymore.

So love November with me. And when life is whipping by, don't keep your leaves from leaving their tired twigs. 

It's too hard.

Let them fly on the wind. 

Cheers to you, and all the trees in your forest. Enjoy your Thanksgiving with all your bark.

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