a few weeks before emory was born, i received a couple of baby memory books with guidelines and prompts. it has always been difficult for me to work (and think) inside set lines. during the note-taking school years, even lined paper felt too inflexible to me. i took all notes on typing paper. i can still remember the facial expressions of people who asked to borrow my notes, after missing a class. my writing was only decipherable by me…and even that wasn’t always guaranteed.
while i tried to keep up with filling in the pages of these books, i quickly realized that i was losing my voice and unique imprint across sheets of outlined boundaries. i wanted to be able to give my kids something that felt more authentic, without a sense of influence or obligation.
it felt natural to begin writing for them.
i have since written many pages—from smaller tidbits to lengthy, more detailed stories and reflections. some are whimsical and full of magic, some have been written with tears streaming down my cheeks, many of them make me laugh; all of them coming together to create this larger, word-filled representation of life—ours.
i love jotting down morsels of this beautiful, ongoing narrative—and have written in a journal for the majority of my life. lately, however, i’ve been thinking about how much of my writing is through a keyboard and isn’t as breezy as it used to be…
i miss handwritten letters and words. i miss writing in circles. i miss side notes. i miss drawing where drawing makes sense—and where drawing makes no sense at all. i miss the smell of paper. i miss being careful around fresh ink. i miss not being able to go back and change a thought or a feeling that i experienced a day or a year ago.
all of these longings have lead me to a new journal, a smearable pen…
and a plan to spend time with both—
continuing to scribble down small slices of life, unedited.
i have been diligently working on a project, these past few weeks, that continues to usher me through a kaleidoscope of emotions. i find myself occasionally pausing to reflect on the offerings and organization of my words;
are they wholly coming from my heart-space?
am i consistently living them?
while they’re spiritually-rooted, they’re also frequently reminding me that this, too, is a human experience.
i am confident, but i have moments of doubt.
i am vulnerable and open, but there are times during which i pull back and push away.
i feel both lost and found,
tired and alive.
i am ever-grateful for the ways we move forward…
and for the remedial nature of getting cozy with our inner voice.
it’s been years since i’ve dipped a brush in acrylic paint and i sometimes miss it. playing around with a watercolor app doesn’t offer the same sort of creative satisfaction, yet i’m still digging it.:)
above is a photo-turned-painted-scene of the pines that i grew up knowing—taken yesterday morning. it is always good to commune with any trees, but the trees that i grew up with—though many are no longer standing, as the whole stand recently met with a tornado and continues to slowly step into its last stage of succession—are a special brew.
these days, my moments here are largely full of being with and around others, yet the rare moments that i find myself alone amongst them, i breathe deeply, taking in familiar scents…and reflect on a more carefree time and the ever-changing ways of life and of living.
yesterday, while walking through them, i thought about these words from hermann hesse…
“for me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. i revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. and even more i revere them when they stand alone. they are like lonely persons. not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like beethoven and nietzsche. in their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. when a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. and every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.
trees are sanctuaries. whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. they do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.
a tree says: a kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, i am life from eternal life. the attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. i was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.
a tree says: my strength is trust. i know nothing about my fathers, i know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. i live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and i care for nothing else. i trust that God is in me. i trust that my labor is holy. out of this trust i live.
when we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: be still! be still! look at me! life is not easy, life is not difficult. those are childish thoughts. let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. …home is neither here nor there. home is within you, or home is nowhere at all…
…so the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. they are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. but when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. he wants to be nothing except what he is.
that is home.
that is happiness.”