Let Yourself Grow!

Winter Landscape at Sunset

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Winter Landscape at Sunset, Anton Mauve (Dutch,  c.1885-87.)

“Look deep into nature and you will understand everything.”

— Albert Einstein

This week in mid December the thermometer at the wide window of my western exposure has reported -7 to 44F. Standing close to the fire in the woodstove, I watched the “outside life” slide slowly into the quiet whispers of winter. In just a few hours, the last leaves caught in the wire fence, tufts of emerald green grass, and stiff stalks of Kale disappeared beneath brilliant white snow edged in hard grey ice. The sky darkened, the wind blew. The Poplar communities huddled together, the white Birches leaned and dipped, carrying pencil thin snow loads in silence, until wind or sun relieved them of the burden.

The spare plainness of organic form on light, black branches on white snow, wiped away any subtlety or shading. The four elements of life shouted out their truth; the earth is quiet, the water still, time in the light is short! Sporting illusions are meant for gentler, longer days. Epiphanies come fast and furious in this stark landscape. Ice isn’t gentle, and cold has no conscience.

We are not separate from what we like to call “Nature.” Bring on your fancy down jacket, and the heat tape, we are that which we call Nature, and she is us. Skate if you wish across frozen natural truths, you will eventually come home to the thin ice of Earth born mortality.

I have already accepted the mantra:

Whatever works for a tree, works for me.

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Winter Landscape, Edvard Munch 1915

These are my gentle alignments that come to pass on a quiet walk in the overgrown backfield on a snowy December afternoon. The frosty air clears my sinuses. I watch as the dogs push warm noses into mysterious snow mounds. They look up at me with fantastically funny white beards and a comic’s straight man face, “What? What’s so funny?” New snow is a dog’s miracle.

Extraneous thoughts drain out of my head like the watery mucus from my running nose. It’s very bright, very clear.

“A bonus!” I think.

The snow adds so much light to a dark day. I am grateful for the reflected light that fills my eyes in the days of long slow darkness. I have left my backpack full of, “I need to,” over there, leaning against the side of the barn. When words stop, senses come out of hibernation.

Stepping back, there is a crunch of boot on fresh snow. A tall elegant Truth strolls by me, donned in ice-encrusted branches with hoarfrost festoons on curled brown leaves. I follow the crooked finger with my eyes, walking across downed Goldenrod and winding grapevines to the rear tree line where I see the Dogwood relative splayed out across the fence. The still attached leaves had taken on ice and snow and the weight was too much. The cold caused brittle, the wind blew, and the graceful tree was snapped in half. In a tenuous fracture, she was broken from the weight of water and ice encasing the leaves that clung to her branches; a casualty of the natural progression of cold and wet at the entrance of winter.

Standing in the hour of sunlight of the afternoon of just pre-solstice December, it came to me. In this light it was crystal clear. It is our inability to let go of our leaves at the end of a season that causes human beings so much angst, and yes, agony. It is our inability to accept that seasons come and go, wind happens, all things have a natural ending as well as beginning. It is just all grist for the mill. To argue this changes nothing. To cling to the past is to be weakened, taken down, cracked open in the cold leveler that is winter.

I heard it clearly out there.

“Let it go already! Give it up! Move on, forgive,

 Let yourself Grow!”

The anger, the hurts, disappointments, the stuff, the sadness, let it all go. Toss it onto the great sacred compost heap of human experience. Let the leaves of past seasons become the rich indiscriminate fertilizer of collective wisdom.

Out in the field, my crunchy truthful friend spoke.

“No need to understand the whys, drop the leaves on the ground and walk away.”

 

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Winter Day Ending David Grossman

In the past week at this Northern latitude, mountainous grey thunderclouds have tumbled across our upper landscape. It has snowed, rained, precipitated in shapes that only the far Northwest Native people would recognize as separate entities. We have been blown about by winds capable of moving massive arctic fronts across our entire continent. We have been frozen solid, thawed, wet and flooded all in the same afternoon.

These are powerful forces and yet the trees, for the most part, stand strong in the wind, despite the cold, despite the short days. All the while, in the dark ground, the roots stretch out, growing thicker and stronger, reaching out to new depths.

 

Tomorrow will be a short dark day, the next the darkest yet, the Solstice of 2016. I intend to enjoy this time. I wish you Safe passage and Much Growth this blessed Winter season.

 

Color Me Yellow and Sing Me a Song

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If you believe your life is random and separate, read no further

Move along down your uncertain path, unencumbered by mystery

Pay no attention to the music that underscores your life

It will only confuse and befuddle an only ME

 This life I have chosen a fine concerto written for the key of WE

Optimistically performed in the chaff of a corn field, on a stormy day in October

A melody of connection sent out on the wind, set free by design

Not a prudent choice, but mine to make, this time ‘round

We imagine the perfect phrases from a polished instrument

A clear tune moving through time- forward and back, illuminating the revered

Human egos and the flotsam of strong currents render their divine melody

Be lost to whirling winds, gnawing teeth, and inattention

I am not a mid age woman with a crow on my head

I am actor and audience in the Opera of matter, movement, and miracle

The symphony of connection is a birthright, a codex to be savored; one life at a time

Perfect phrases from a polished instrument we can all hear

 

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We took a ride to see the leaves in October.

We went to celebrate our harvest of good health with the glorious colors of autumn.

We went in search of apples, cider doughnuts, blue skies and red Maples.

We went with a sense of immediacy; defendable to those living close to the earth, or those not long for this world. “Hurry let’s go, before they are gone….”

It is one of the miracles of impermanency that in their last glorious days, any leaf, on any tree, will individuate with glowing authenticity. Even as it drifts back to its Earthly origin a single leaf shouts out “This is who I am and this was my experience here, let me sing my song and shout my colors. Let me share this with you!”

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We took to the road to witness our world as luminous, by the leaves made numinous

North out of Florida, through Georgia and into the mountains, we journeyed heavy of tire, but light of heart in the roving ranchette that is Minerva. Having spent many months in a forced retirement community known as “Storage,” Minerva was ready to rumble. The quest to savor and sample the glorious days of Harvest is an ancient tradition in my family. Three generations wandering country roads on a Sunday afternoon after church. Our elders named the trees, read the colors for weather omen, happily radiating us with multi- generational layers of earthly experience.

“Remember the Nor’easters last year that took them all down? The ice storm of 58?”

The colors on Kodachrome forever preserved in my mind. Musty sweaters and piles of squash, an over ripe apple, the last yellow jacket; sounds and smells illuminated by the Halleluiah chorus of falling leaves in sun bright colors, these images live in my soul.

Life isn’t a sure thing. Learn from the imperative of the “Beautiful Day.” Go now!

 

The Leaves were honored in countless tributes in October.

We saw them. Red Maples and rusty Oaks, Hickory and Beech standing against a clear blue sky swept clear of humidity. After the brilliant but monochromatic gold of New Mexico, then multi-textured, perpetual green of Florida, I thought I would weep at the beauty. I think my brain hadn’t processed color and light at this magnitude for a very long time. I drank in the colors by the gallon. My ancestors wiped pie sticky fingers on worn aprons, and smiled.

The leaves sang their colors simultaneously. A vast chorus, all singing a different song. They had been the subtle back up musicians of green; anonymous and safe. These individuals in their last days were accorded all due respect as they announced their own demise. Remember the childhood celebration of the single leaf? The favored one plucked out from thousands by a small hand. It’s beauty enshrined between ironed wax paper and hung in the window.


 Individuation is a philosophical, spiritual and mystical experience (Jung, 1989b, p. 294). It is the goal of                   our psychological development and in metaphysical terms amounts to God’s incarnation (Jung, 1989b,                         p. 157). Individuation is the central concept and purpose of Jung’s Analytical Psychology (Jung, 1989a, p. 209


single leaves

So much diversity; clear and brilliant as they prepare to fall and rejoin the ultimate unity. All is exposed in the autumn of life; nature and nurture, character and cultivation. Attached and entwined, the scarlet poison ivy insinuates itself into the heights crawling its way up on the bark of trees. The woody grapevines and their clever corkscrew wrappers; we can see their trickiness clearly in October. The artifice of expansion is useless in Fall. Drop the yearning; a leaf life is but one season long. Better to go out singing.

In what was once a wall of analogous green, each different species is shouting out their identity, “Look at me! I am not a Maple or an Oak. I am a Beech and my essence is yellow!” Each leaf differentiating their experience from the thousand on the same branch. A fungus here and caterpillar there, a sunny spot or shady struggle, its time for the finale. As a leaf, in the bright short days of October, is this the best time to self actualize? Or the only time?

This magnificent display of innate creativity just before returning to dust, is it a last ditch dump of all the glory you came with, but never used?

Are you really any wiser or more beautiful than the “Greenies” of July? Or are they just too engorged with tomorrows to create extraordinary colors today?

Or is it the grace of clarity that arrives when we realize we are leaves and not the tree.

Happy Harvest

 

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A self-actualizer is a person who is living creatively and fully using his or her potentials.

 “What a Woman can do, she must do”

http://psychology.about.com/od/

theoriesofpersonality/a/hierarchyneeds_2.htm