Archive for July, 2013

A Flowering Tree


For most of 25 years I have run for exercise. This winter I shortened my mileage. Now it feels like a struggle both mentally and physically to get my fitness back. Yesterday, while on a slow uninspired run, a man stopped his car, leaned out and asked “how far do you go?” Discouraged, I said “not far”. He replied, “I see you all the time, I thought you would say 15 miles a day or something.” Stunned, I again realized that my perception of myself is not always the same as how others see me. All my life I felt transparent—meaning it seemed that how I was feeling inside was obvious on the outside and that made it real. This isn’t always true. We are taught to not pay attention to what other’s say about us. Yet, for true self-exam sometimes it is useful to listen to another’s opinion, weigh its validity and then no matter how it feels let it go to free up authentic expression.


As I sit inside the house and ponder this story and why it is sticking with me, outside it is dumping rain and alternating thunder with lightning. A vision of myself as a flowering tree flashes through my mind. I see my emotions and opinions as the weather. The elements both nourish and destruct the tree’s growth and yet they are not actually the tree. Just as my thoughts can nourish and destroy my own flowering, they aren’t actually me. Nor do my opinions of others create a truth about them. It is wise to be aware of how I feel within, while remembering it is not a definition of me, it is simply an estimation of that moment. We are fluid creatures that contain multitudes.


This story began with a man seeing me as motivated, while I felt lazy. Honestly, both are true. For years I have been seeking wholeness. It is now apparent that I had mistakenly believed being whole would mean perfection by human standards. Yet with time behind me, what sages have been saying for eternity rings true in my bones. Totality comprises everything, including that which could be thought of as opposites; soul and ego, spirit and matter, light and dark, greatness and mediocrity, joy and anger, motivated and lazy. I have a strong preference for sunny, hot weather, which means I refer to such a day as good. While a cold wet day is bad. However, they are both necessary for the health of the world; making neither one truly better than the other regardless of my prejudice. This shows me that nothing is inherently good or bad, only we put value on one side or the other. Value does not equal truth. It seems that once we deeply recognize this, we can move from measuring life against an ideal to genuinely living it.

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