There is not a tree here the species books would call perfect. They are bent and twisted, storm-broken and shallow-rooted. They share a mere skiff of soil, what sunlight they can reach and make the best of what they have. Ironwood, cedar, birch are the oldest. Sapling maple and ash have found space too, and tall twisting rowan that drop bright orange berries in the fall.
Birch is the tallest, and shortest-lived – they fall first, in piles where green moss and mushroom speed the process of rot. Seeds from any species take root there; everywhere I look death feeds life.
Here companionship is visible – a staying with, through weather and change. All around I see slow and deliberate acts of steady-ing and support. These beings share their vulnerabilities – a trunk too thin to support straight growth will lean on another, older and stronger. They live this way, making room, sharing strength, all their lives. They stretch their roots beneath the skiff of soil, to connect with their own mycelial network. This community of flora and fauna knows who among them is weak, starved or injured – and they send nourishment or honour death, if death it must be.
This morning’s brief scan from my tiny access point into the world-wide-web offers me news from Rebecca Solnit (a major hub of the human mycelial network ), who scans today’s news and puts all in context of sanity, who treks through the away-ness of Tibet, brings solar lights, medical teams and menstrual kits with her for giveaway.
I see elsewhere that Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman: 1984 team has partnered with the Anti-recidivism Coalition (ARC) in California to raise awareness and funds in support of formerly incarcerated men and women.
Also a broad spectrum of successful Go Fund Me campaigns (Thank you Amanda Palmer), Avaaz squaring up against Monsanto, great new restaurant downtown, free umbrellas if you need ’em, looking for recommendations….
These trees teach me to reclaim my love for humans. Contrary to what we hear or read in the news, we do help one another, genuinely and reliably. We do what we can to keep ourselves and each other laughing-strong so we can withstand together the ever more serious blights that threaten the world. We Stay with the Trouble, we collaborate across knowledge fields to study the warm data that inter-connects systems, we learn, we notice, we support, we link arms as companions, we resist the fear that would divide us.
Universal companionship requires a proactive sensing of signals that is not possessive, but compassionate. For me, this is a learned practise that extends beyond simple emotional sensitivity.
My humanness requires a conscious determination to crack the carapace of whatever restricts my self-awareness, to reveal the vulnerability that connects me with all vulnerable selves. To honour and sing with the voice only I have, to speak my claimed insight – gently, firmly, assertively, especially if it goes against the well-promoted grain. To pay attention, through my uniquely human skin, to the other species around me.
To see and understand pain, for what it is.
The revolution, the evolution is not going to be found in conference centers or seminars in 5 star hotels. It won’t be definable in righteousness or sanctimony.
The resonances will be and are where the pain has been–where there was no choice but to become unbreakable.
Where the scars are generations deep and sculpt into raw, sassy, funny, sexy, harsh, confusing.
Nobody’s ever ready for real change. The tree snaps in the wind, the hurricane rips through an island, a city. The bullet misses, or finds its mark, your heart breaks, suddenly and without warning, in a new place. The army invades and you become a refugee, the American Government takes your child from your arms, someone who has been raped himself, rapes her. A diagnosis, a move, a new job, you fall into swooning, impossible love….
Not one of us is ever ready. But if we are human, if we allow us to fill with compassion and laughter we can claim our pain and learn how to keep growing; life from death.
We can choose to play our pathway out of trouble, learn to think differently, to haltingly, hilariously, try out a new language.
- without limits
- unrestricted by definition, requirement, or compulsion