Returning Light

The days are getting longer, second by second, and I’m not ready. Not ready for sun and warmth and open windows. Not ready for melting and thawing and blooming.

I want to stay within the cocoon, enclosed and wrapped up and listening to the sound of rain. Dormant and inward, dreaming and still.

It’s safer to stay stuffed down and numb, to not remember or be aware. To see strength in pulling up the boot straps and doing what needs doing and not feeling. To rest, safe, in that den down in the roots of the old tree, forgetting that above you the tree is pulling up life and budding and leafing out.

What is the definition of healing? Recognizing that at some point you need to also lift up and step out? How do you know if you are fully healed or partially or somewhat or as good as it’s going to get or not at all?

I’m so much more emotional than I ever used to be. I cry at everything from songs to anger to nothing at all. One day a few weeks ago I was talking to my husband and crying and I told him I didn’t even know why I was crying. I didn’t feel angry or sad and yet I was crying. I even laughed at the absurdity of crying without knowing why. As always, he so easily sucks up my tears in his hugs.

For me, being emotional has always been a sign of weakness and not being in control. For a few years now I’ve felt broken by two events. One was the death of Sam Grafton in February of 2018. The second was having to come to terms with some deeply personal issues that were forced to the surface by COVID’s masks.

I saw those two things as breaking me so that suddenly I could no longer breathe through life, stooped under the huge, huge weight of grief, and felt I had lost all control. I’m trying now to follow the advice that says I’m not broken but opened and placed on a new path.

It’s hard to believe that when I still see emotions as a loss of control and when I still strongly need to feel in control and safe. And yet there I sat, crying for no reason. I get so impatient and almost angry. I think, quit whining. You used to be strong. Do what needs to be done. Push everything else back down.

So many of us are here, in these days that are starting to lengthen, feeling that warmth that pulls us up from the safety of our dens. That sets us out along the path we don’t want to walk, that makes us face things like bright summer light that bring tears to our eyes.

I’ve always loved the rain. I prefer the cold winter season over any other time of the year. I love the short dark days and the warm fire and the feeling of being enclosed and safe. Whether it’s the reality of this love for the wet and cold or the analogy of wanting to stay down in the roots of who I used to be, all I know is that I’m not prepared for the change.

Wild Trees

I am re-reading a book called The Wild Trees by Richard Preston. It’s non-fiction about a group of people who study the high canopies of the tallest trees in the world. It’s about how they came together and learned to become ‘sky walkers’, to move through those trees and discover the amazing biodiversity found in those high canopies. I remember the first time reading it and being blown away by the realization that all these habitats exist high in the trees – everything from tiny wetlands to pockets of soil that support life like miniature parks no one has ever seen.

There is one story about these sky walkers hanging tree hammocks over three hundred feet in the air and sleeping up in the redwood canopy at night. One night they are caught in a storm with the wind bending the tree tops, sending their hammocks rocking. They talk about the sounds a tree makes at night in the wind. Not just the external sounds of branches whispering against each other, but the internal sounds of the heartwood.

Have you ever thought about a tree making sounds? It makes sense that it would. It’s a living organism after all. The wood bends and twists and moves and of course that would all make noise. But the author also talks about deep sounds almost below the level of human hearing.

I want that to be the heartwood, beating.

There are other books and articles about trees and how they form a habitat above and below ground. They talk about fungi that creates huge interconnecting pathways of roots that send nutrients to all trees in a grove or forest.

When you walk through a forest, there is so much life under your feet that you’re completely unaware of.

I know there are also books out there that anthropomorphize trees. That attribute human behavior or characteristics to trees. I’m skeptical of those. I don’t want them to be like humans. Plus I feel it’s a bit egotistical to think all life must mimic humanity.

I want trees to be a mystery unto themselves. Think about their lifespans. The redwoods in this book are two and three thousand years old. Not hundreds. Thousands. Think about what it must be like to live such a slow, slow life. All the rushing we do every day isn’t even a blip on a tree’s sense of time. If, of course, it even senses time and I’m not anthropomorphizing.

My sister, before she passed away, told me she could communicate with trees. She told me that the trees where I used to live were aware of me, sensed me, and trusted me. Whether that was true or not, I accepted that as one of the best gifts she gave me.

When I go by there now, I hope those trees remember me. Because I remember them, especially the ones I planted so very many years ago.

What She Used To Be

She used to see faces and magical creatures and wondrous shapes in shades of gray and white.

Now she just sees clouds.

She used to find the mystic in the woods.

Now she just sees trees.

She used to find the holy in the mountains.

Now she just sees stone.

She used to find the hallowed in music.

Now she just hears silence.

She used to see hope in the future.

Now she just sees the next step.

She used to find meaning in the past.

Now she just sees loss.

She used to find power in the stories.

Now she just sees words.