Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Strength of a Tree Lies In It's Ability to Bend

A number of months ago at an artist show, I picked up a little hand made jar with the quote "The Strength of a Tree Lies In It's Ability to Bend". I have it sitting in the little kitchen window bump out in Shelton, and I look at it every morning, as I work at the sink. It sits under another artist piece, a blown glass piece, that is suspended over the open jar like a pendulum. Each time I read it each morning, I try to take in the full meaning of it bit by bit. Laid up with my back yet another time, I am reading it more deeply and trying to reach that place of flexibility, of surrender that a tree must allow, especially with the winter winds.

 A few weeks ago, one of our trees at the lake was uprooted by an unusually heavy snow, while I was back in the city. When I arrived at the lake, I saw the small casualty of the tall, lanky, young evergreen laying on the ground, it's root ball popped out of the ground. After some professional advice on the best strategy to save the tree, Michael propped it up slightly on a can, and were told that every month for the next six months, we should move it bit by bit, until the tree was righted. Wow, six months till it is upright and hopefully solid in the ground and ready to stand tall to meet the autumn and possibly another tough winter!? Six months. What if I were to think about my body the same way I am thinking about the downed tree? Could I give my self time, and little by little, month by month begin to right myself and become more rooted, grounded and ready to withstand whatever challenges I am faced with next? We were told that if we tried to force the tree totally upright immediately, the tree might be traumatized and more unlikely to survive. We had to approach it gently, gradually, slowly and carefully. This seemed like a very logical approach, although I would be lying if I said I did not want to, with my impulsive nature, put the tree up straight and tap down the soil, possibly stake it and hope for the best right now. But this was not the most practical approach that would insure the best possible outcome for the tree. I accepted that this is what the tree needed.

So, I ended up stranded, so to speak, at the lake for a week in pain, and had to miss the 1st Thursday opening of our Chair Affair, because I was unable to make the drive back to the city. I had to deal with disappointment and resentment. I am not sure what caused my back to go into such painful spasm again, just when I thought I was on the slow road to recovery, feeling so tired of constantly feeling broken inside and out. Before my back's decline, I worked on a large scale drawing. It felt so luscious to feel the smooth, resilient Stonehenge paper on my fingertips, the soft graphite sticks in my hand, double fisting with the brand new fresh white block eraser. I had forgotten how long it had been since I had drawn and "sculpted" with graphite on paper. I cherished every moment of laying down layer upon layer of graphite, while simultaneously "drawing", "sculpting", by removing areas of the graphite with the chunky eraser as images began to emerge from the paper. Carving away at the graphite as I removed it from the paper with the eraser, is much the way I manipulate, move  and remove clay from the mound I hold in my hands, and wait for the image to begin to emerge as I sculpt.  I listened to some old music that I used to draw to, that transported me back to that place I loved. The place of becoming one with the paper, the graphite, the eraser, blackening my hands, till I could no longer tell where the paper, the graphite, the drawing, my hands, my heart and spirit started and ended. That precious time, when you become so totally absorbed in the moment of the process of creating, and seeing the paper come to life and become the unexpected. As I worked on it, listening to Rusted Root and Morphine, the sense of aliveness filled me up more than I can begin to express through words. I stepped back after dancing with the drawing for a while, to see what it revealed to me. The image had begun to come to me in a vision when I had awakened that morning, and began to come to fruition by surrendering to the drawing process. The drawing began to tell me a story. It helped me to work out some of the grief I have been living and helped me to surrender to it through creating. 

I couldn't wait to work on the additional three pieces of large drawing paper that I brought with me, but my body had other plans for me. I suppose it is a slow process to right something, to root something solid enough, to hold itself strong and straight, reaching up to gain strength from the sun and the rain that will keep the ground and the root ball moist and alive, readying itself to take on the next season of it's life. Yes, the strength of a tree does indeed lie in it's ability to bend, to be flexible, to be patient, and trust that in time, if treated with gentleness, tenderness, compassion and not pushing it beyond it's present limits,  it will survive and be as strong as before, maybe even stronger having had to withstand being knock down. Therein lies the lesson, the time, the listening....

1 comment:

chocolate.karats said...

ti piace.

maybe the project should be on going, one drawing per season?

"Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, "I'm possible!"
audrey hepburn