Tuesday, April 26, 2016

anemone


a tide pool is an ocean from a sea-anemone view


as a child, i loved going to the tide pools. my favorite part was finding a sea anemone.  i marveled at its many arms, reaching out eagerly but leisurely in all directions.  it seemed hungry to grasp at many somethings, but sought after things in a contemplative manner.

i could never keep myself from sticking my finger in the water, to join it in its slow motion dance. the sea anemone, however, was never keen to accept me as a dance partner however. when poked or prodded the sea anemone pulls all its arms into itself, closes itself off to the world.

perhaps this was for self-preservation. 

turns out its many arms are both a means of reaching out for what it wants and defending itself against what it fears.  the arms are armed with venom-filled cells capable of paralyzing prey and predator alike.  (fortunately, humans are immune to most sea anemone venom.)

but, the sea anemone can’t stay closed forever.  it slowly, almost with trepidation, risks to open up again.  it reaches out an arm or two to test the waters before blossoming in full.  and i gleefully waited to watch it re-bloom time and time again. 

i didn’t think much then about how taxing all this must be for the sea anemone.  i didn’t ponder at what stamina is required to reach out with hope and then close up in protection and then to risk to open again to reach out anew.

i wonder about this now because i’ve lately thought about how taxing it can be to open and close oneself up.  we each are eagerly, even hungrily, reaching out for nourishment in this world.  we find nourishment in life dreams, creative passions, and most of all in people we love.  this is our marvelous, eager dance – the reaching out in many such directions, much like the sea anemone. 

but all the reaching comes with risk.  the risk is this: to reach for is to find.  you find goals, passions, and people you love.  that love turns those things into a need for sustenance.  however, sometimes, if not most times, those things can’t all be grasped at once.

the reality of this comes like my finger reaching into the water: a foreign, hazily defined force touching into our life. we’re not so sure whether it is something to open up toward or something to close down against.  untrusting, and anticipating pain, we close in ourselves.  we pull in all our arms.  it is not a choice, really, it is instinctual.

perhaps this is for self-preservation. 

this is a necessary and heavy part of existence.  we sometimes must pull inwards and away from the nourishment that we long for.  maybe it is because we have to reach back towards ourselves.  maybe it is to prepare for the reaching out in next, uncertain, but unstoppable tide.  maybe we just have to rest awhile, get used to being a bit nutrient deficient, so that we can better treasure the things that nourish us.  maybe we just need a bit of time in the dark to see all things around us in a new and dazzling light when we bloom again. 

honestly – i am jealous of the sea anemone.  because he has many arms to reach out into many directions at once and i only have two.  i have so many places i want to keep an arm reaching out towards, so may people there i want to hold on to.  and sometimes the reality of not being able to have my arms in two vastly different seas at once is so disheartening, that exhaustion sets in, and i have to collapse the arms inward like the sea anemone.

according to the oxford english dictionary, anemone means “daughter of the wind.”  what a lovely and  tragic image.  the wind often flows in predictable patterns, returning regularly to favorite haunts, sauntering through and lingering there.  revisiting the same tree canopies, same grasslands, same mountain passes.  but the wind is, usually, in constant movement. it never lingers quite long enough to call one place home.  instead, it gets to live a bit of life in many places, and stays connected to the nooks it loves most - even if those favorite nooks are distant from each other, and even if the wind can only be a visitor to any of them.

in any case, the gumption of the sea anemone is worthy of admiration. it acknowledges its need to  close down out of a need for occassional conservation, but it never fails to bloom anew, arms eager to embrace what the tide brings.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

roots



 
here is the root of the root 
and the bud of the bud 
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; 
which grows
higher than the soul can hope 
or mind can hide
(e.e. cummings)

while at the dentist this week, i got x-rays of my mouth.  and while looking at the milky image of my teeth composed against the midnight black, i was distracted by the roots.


i was stunned by just how deep the roots are.  when you look at your teeth in the mirror you see so much less than what they actually are, you see just a fraction of them, only the part that is exposed to the world, roughed up daily by the friction of food, polished twice a day by a brush and minty paste.  i thought i knew my teeth – i guess not.


and because you have plenty of time to be in your head at the dentist, and are often thirsty for distraction as you lay flat, mouth wide, jaw numb, examining the texture of ceiling panels in the examination room  - i got to thinking more about roots in general.


the classic metaphor of something only fractionally seen is an iceberg.  approximately 7/8 of the iceberg’s mass is under water.  in other words, the “root” is majority of the creature.  in other words, what most of us know and recognize as an “iceberg” from images, is only a portion of the profile.  the term iceberg is from the dutch for “ice mountain” – but this is a mountain inverted, and usually hidden under the surface of the sea.  the iceberg’s roots are 7/8 of its being, and this majority is rendered essentially invisible. 


i got to thinking how incredible and incredibly sad it would be if 7/8 of ourselves was below the surface, rendered essentially invisible.  and then i got to thinking that perhaps this is just so, no “if” about it.  how much of ourselves to we show to others, truly? how much of ourselves to we show to ourselves?


tree roots are equally thought-provoking and equally unseen.  the giant sequoia, the world’s largest tree by volume, has an extensive root system.  the tiny, thread-like tendrils spread out from the tree up to 200 feet.  this root system is only 12 to 14 feet under the soil, but maintains the equilibrium of a tree that is almost 300 feet tall and nearly 2 million pounds at maturity. 


that got me to thinking about how wide spread our roots sometimes can be. do shallow, extensive roots provide us greater personal equilibrium over a deep, confined tap root?  if you ever see a portion of a giant sequoia uprooted (or image search it) – it is beautiful.  although the sight signifies the demise of a woodland leviathan, the web that was hidden under the soil is mystifying to behold.  it is a moment to take pause and consider the mystifying beauty of the hidden roots in each of us, should we ever chance to be uprooted.  maybe we should chance…


because trees are my deal – i also got to thinking about the quaking aspen (their leaves “quake” a captivating dance in the breeze).  when you behold an aspen “grove,” chances are you are actually seeing one “clone” tree.  aspens regenerate vegetatively via shoots that arise along lateral roots.  each tree in the clone shares identical characteristics and shares the same root structure.  best of all – each tree in the clone will shift into fall colors and into winter sparseness at the same time.  magic. 


this got me to thinking of the common roots we share with those closest to our hearts – how we often mimic characteristics in each other, phase in and out of life chapters at the same time.  and when you find you are a bit out of sync with the rest of the trees in your clone – their leaves have turned to golden yellow and yours still a spring green – it leaves you with a bit of an identity crisis.  these trees are your tribe, so why are you not the same shade?  although an individual aspen tree can’t reach out its own roots elsewhere and survive, can’t leave the clone and later return to it, that is sometimes what is required of us.  you still share the same leaf shape and bark as the rest, you are still a tribe member in that regard.  although a bit unnerving, your contrasting hue allows you to properly appreciate the beauty of their golden yellows, as they all shift together.  maybe the beauty increases at a distance, as you stand apart.  maybe that is the only way to really see the beauty at all. maybe this is a gift they give you without knowing.


as i said – there is a bit too much time to get pensive during dental work, and especially when mesmerized by an x-ray of the roots of your teeth.  you realize there are parts of yourself you don’t know at all, haven’t made the effort to see.  and, if that is true of yourself, the person’s who’s head, heart, and body you live in every moment of everyday – this must be even more true for those you know “well” and those you hardly know.


the take away for me with the captivating idea of roots is to develop eyes to see and a heart of longing to know the roots that lay hidden in me.


and, in you.

 
references:





Saturday, April 9, 2016

unhinged


strangely drawn
to the way of tripping hazards.
to reminders of the breakable.
to remind that you should risk to break.

but make no mistake:
even caught up in this dream
you know it is all irreplaceable.
all of it.

the uncomfortable truth is:
your hands just can’t hold
all that you want to cradle at once
(and your heart can’t either.)

and this creates a fever,
forces you into the dance we each learn alone,
with both feet half lame,
bruised and aching.

you feel your heart breaking.
but this is a sort of self-preservation
and a realization that maybe it is easier
to, sometimes, proactively forget.

you say you’re “just not ready yet”
but welcome to Hesitation
population: Too Many to Count
where Time is never Time enough.

and this is undeniably tough:
to uproot your heart
so you can catch a glimpse of an origin
(since you have a blindness for endpoints.)

as you come unhinged at the joints
you wonder: “maybe i’m just better on paper?
better at living, breathing, and speaking through paper?”
(safe and sound, and sound asleep).

this foreshadowing of hindsight has drawn you in deep
into the burdensome realization that:
to deny yourself the difficult
is often to deny the chance to share your worth.

this is a sort of rebirth:
to open up every uncomfortable place inside yourself
to set free the bird caged within
before its wings atrophy beyond repair.

and this is laying your heart bare
as you’re getting old, and want something to lean on.
but - (maybe) - it is this constant leaning forward
that keeps us constantly young.

and this is the song that’s being sung:
to store up Light,
like it’s going out of style
to recall to regular memory
all that makes life worthwhile.