A Tree Grows

Winter is very often a time for reflection and introspection. The shorter daylight hours, the huddling inside away from the storms and the festivals which bring families together under the same roof, all have a way of opening doors we may keep closed at other times of the year. And so it has been for me which is probably why I found myself staring at my palms in a quiet moment and wondering why they looked so different.

People interested in palm reading will know that the dominant hand is the progressive palm, detailing where a person is now and where they might be in relation to the traits they were born with. These traits are detailed on the recessive palm, or non-dominant palm. When I look at my hands there is a clear difference between the two life lines, the curving grooves that start at the edge of the palms under the index finger and down across the palm towards and around the fleshy part beneath the thumb. Both are long - almost exactly the same. But... the line on my recessive palm is clearly broken, it overlaps with the end of the first part of the life line and then continues on anew. The line on my progressive palm is unbroken.

The break is supposed to mean a change in my life; overlapping signals a planned change. Clearly, at some point in my life I didn't get the memo. I've carried on and missed whatever opportunity was awaiting me at birth. Or have I? You see, I've also spent a lot of time in the great outdoors this winter - the by-product of owning a dog!

Winter is also great for seeing things that you would not normally see during the leafy spring and summer months. The heavy canopies of leaves and dense undergrowth serve as fantastic hiding places for our wildlife. This winter alone I have seen kingfishers, tree creepers, yellow wagtails and a deluded buzzard - who thought she was completely invisible up until the point I looked her in the eye and said 'Hello.' The shapes and forms of the environment are clearer in their nakedness, the inter-connectivity of the world laid bare. It was during one of these walks that my palm based reverie was made clear. Let me explain...

Think about a tree. Any tree. How high is it? What colour is its bark? Is the trunk smooth or rough? Are there many branches? What shape are the leaves? What colour are they? Does anything live in the tree? How does the tree make you feel?

I suspect that your tree did not look much like this one...

Trees are expected to grow up straight, tall and look like lollipops on children's pictures. This one did not get the memo either!

I often use trees during my nature connection sessions with clients. How a person sees or 'reads' a tree is as telling about the person as it is about the tree. A tree grows through life seeking out the sun. Its every effort during the growing months is dedicated to ensuring that enough leaves face enough sunlight to produce energy to grow. The tree will bend and twist, it will shed redundant branches, even move in some places - just to make sure that it can produce energy for growth and to produce seeds to reproduce. They are sculpted by the wind, a predominant south-westerly comb-over for those not protected by the company of others. They adapt. And those that adapt survive and thrive.

This tree is a classic example of that fact. In spring and summer, you could be forgiven for actually thinking that this is in fact three trees. The undergrowth conceals the lower part of the tree and that is where the party is going on! At some point in its life, the tree has thrown out a sturdy limb, surprisingly low to the ground. Its main trunk continued along its path but something odd happened elsewhere. Part of the branch curved back towards its mother earth, planted itself and grew once more; a new life, a new trunk, a new beginning. But what happened on that journey is equally interesting. It decided to try another path; a new branch/trunk grew upwards toward the light until it became the thickest, strongest part of the tree yet completely dependent on the anchors it had set itself as it journeyed through life. Each of the 'trunks' have different characteristics - one is ivy-clad, rotting; another is strong, thick, confident and the third, more delicate, flexible, youthful.

You see, the tree is on the move. It is not sticking to the plan. It will not be a lollipop.

And so, to my palms...

We do this to our own children. I mean society of course. Our schools are about preparing them for a life which has a certain road map. 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' we ask. Then we prescribe the tried and tested methodology to get there and watch them try to follow it. Thing is, I wanted to be Luke Skywalker. In the absence of the methodology I decided to be an astronaut, a pilot, a diplomat (?), a teacher, a photographer, a writer, a counsellor and so on... In fact, I spent so long 'wanting to be' I didn't really enjoy what it was like to be me.

The tree taught me something. It was all things at once. It was adaptable. It was on the move. It tried something new on the journey. It thrived. It failed. It attracted other things into its life - ivy, bugs, birds, fungi, me. When I look at this tree I feel joy. Life has been interesting and it has participated in all of it. My broken life-line and my solid life-line are not 'should haves' or 'could haves' but reminders of one of my favourite sayings:

'If one door closes another opens... or, you can open the door once more. That's how doors work.'

So, how does your tree look? Does it match your expectations for a tree or is it different? And if so, what does it tell you?

Let me know - perhaps send a picture of your tree and we can learn about each other through the inter-connectedness of all living things.


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