Have you ever driven through a canyon and looked up into the rocky scree field to see a lone, but large, tree perched up on high?
In nothing identifiable as habitat, those seedlings took root and refused to give up.
I've always loved those trees; craned my neck out the window to see way up the canyon wall to find the bravest branches.
I have so much respect and admiration for those trees. If you've been in one of those canyons, you could guess what they're up against.
As humans we rarely get a glimpse into what we're up against; what we are fighting against and for. Someone standing tall and straight in line at the bank looks like a person standing tall and straight. You won't notice that when they walk out they're listing to the left; a built in adjustment that comes with a lifetime of being hung over a cliffs edge never knowing what weather or pebble shift at your feet might send you tumbling down to the river below.
Most days I just swim the current that carries me to and fro, the 'things'; the daily living of a life with family and meals and jobs and pets and growing things and the smaller tracking of life moving forward, calendar pages littering the floor. That used to be all of my every day. I had developed a compensating lean into the unsatisfactory stress I was left with at the end of each day.
And then I fell over. In the early months of 2021, I collapsed under the weight of both that which I had been carrying and the alcohol I had been using to numb the hurt and disappointment with the emptiness of that weight. It was too much for the slope I'm rooted on and I fell right over.
It took another year, really, to stand up straight again. But when I did, I'd shed the weight of ALL that I had carried previously. I was lighter, stretching to the sky and looking upstream. I separated from relationships that were detrimental, both personal and professional. I had built not just a life but a future with the life I had been living. I had to look upstream and see a different future because I'd already landed in a totally different present. I had to look downstream at what I might have left behind that I needed back.
I got back to work, but not for a life.
I took a 9-5 job in a RADICALLY different industry where I have no responsibilities to set the course of the company, (Turns out "Boss Lady" is not a satisfying roll for me). I show up, I do well, I go home. I work with and for amazing people doing cool things in an industry that can have a meaningful impact on green technologies and our collective futures. The difference is that now I can go home and be home. I enjoy my family and my life and that gave me space to enjoy myself again. When I enjoy myself, my childlike wonder comes out and I have to point at the sky and gasp at the colors. When I struggle, I go outside. I feel, and hear, and smell and see; I absorb. And now, when I am anxious or hurt or bored or excited or even exhausted instead of feeling lost and wronged I pull up something I absorbed. That sunset last July, the Zinnias in the garden when they overtake me, that bend in that road when the light hits it just right.... now I have those giddy joys stored away, absorbed into my bones and I paint.
I paint and it's all color and movement and me and my treasures.
And I feel like a brave little tree again.