"A tree uses what comes its way to nurture itself. By sinking its roots deeply into the earth, by accepting the rain that flows towards it, by reaching out to the sun, the tree perfects its character and becomes great...absorb, absorb, absorb. That is the secret of the tree." --Deng Ming-Dao--
Blurred images of the treelined street at dusk...every day a different tree stands for a photo session with me. Where last month, I recorded ordinary moments from behind the camera lens--this one has become all about capturing trees. It feels right to me, not a resolution exactly--but a form of self-nurturing--of continuing to pay attention to the overlooked backdrop of my life. There is a lesson for me in this bareness...the stripped down version of branches touching the frigid sky with such tenderness, not expecting anything in return.
So I say my first resolution or intention for 2007 is to "use what comes my way to nurture myself"...to "sink my roots deeply into the earth", to "accept the rain" flowing towards me, and to "reach out to the sun" until my arms ache. Nurturing should come easily enough to me, right? I am the mother of three children...a teacher...a woman...this is an innate quality assigned to female personality. It is said that we are "designed" to take care of others and ourselves...according to some religious texts, this is why, in fact, women exist. But, for me, it has never come naturally.
My self-portrait includes my youngest child, who wandered into the room when I stood there with the camera timer on. Using what rain comes my way, I sat her down and took another shot with us together. She is the last baby I will actively nurture as a parent--the other children older by three and seven years respectively. Just yesterday, her crib finally was taken down and I said idly to M, "The next time we set up a crib will be for our grandchildren," and he paused for a moment, just looking at me. The need for me to tap into my questionable nurturing skill is likely linked to the very real need for me to learn new ways to mother my children. It isn't about sleepless nights and diapers and crying jags and lullabies. It is about answering the oldest's questions concerning war and global warming...re-assuring the middle that, yes--he will be a man like his father someday when he worries, already, that somehow he'll never measure up...it is about accepting that the baby is outgrowing my lap, the crooked orbit of my arms where I once was the full moon circling over her.
2006 was a about battling a health condition all year long, feeling the constant pain and watching it wreak havoc on my physical self. Now, I am slowly emerging from beneath this tide--and I must continue to nurture myself to full wellness and unfettered strength. I am nurturing my writing self--rediscovering the joy of notebooks waiting to be filled and fast-moving black ink pens. I am nurturing my bonds with family and friends--who have often stood by, unnoticed as the blurry edged trees in my landscape. I am nurturing laughter, wisdom, openness, and attention. I stumble often and need reminders almost constantly, so I stand in the cold taking pictures of trees, with a quiet longing to tap into their secrets.