I was “trained” in literature. As a result, I tend to see symbols, metaphors, and analogies all around me. Some days, it’s obvious, like the terrible parenting day where (among other things) my son broke my “Best Mom” mug. Or when the Internet ate, not one, but two of my initial blog posts for this site, forcing me to start all over again.
Other days, I have to work hard to make meaning from what I see around me. I live in an area that was recently hit with heavy rains and flooding. Because of the poor weather and conditions, I had not ventured outside much in the weeks that followed. When I finally did hit the highway, I was struck by how the landscape had changed. Rock formations that had lined the highway had crumbled from the onslaught of water. There were huge canyons running down those same walls where the water drained. But most striking to me were the tress that had slid down the rock faces and where now clinging to the edge.
A majority of these tress were still green and in bloom. You could see their roots holding on and already beginning to explore their new surroundings, looking for the best place to hang on, get water and stay grounded even though the ground had shifted beneath them. And, a small number of tress had already bent themselves vertical again, standing up while their roots were growing more beside them then underneath them. Grass and wild flowers were also starting to grow on these rock faces, from the dirt that had slid down the sides with the water and erosion. Nature in all of its destructive and resilient beauty.
This resiliency is not new to me. A little more than ten years ago, I was living in an area that was hit by an ice storm of epic proportions. Trees had inches and inches of ice caked on them. Metal towers that carried power lines crumpled like paper under the weight of the ice. Some places lost power for more than six weeks. Driving, you saw these bare trees, bent under the weight of the ice, running parallel to the ground. But once summer came, the highways were lined with green leaves all over the trees. It looked like nothing had ever happened. Ten years later, you can still see bent trees in the winter, but many of them have righted themselves, pointing upward towards the sky once again.
I wonder if the trees hanging over the edge of the cliffs will climb their way bag up the hill, roots slowly pulling the tree towards more stable ground. But, another heavy rain could just as easily push those trees all the way to the ground, uprooting them and leaving them for dead. I really hope the trees just stay where they are, hanging over the side and flourishing. Because I never would have noticed those trees if it weren’t for the fact that they had broken free from the rest, been given the opportunity to appreciate the resiliency of trees.
I looked at those trees and they looked like I feel, pushed out from where I was comfortable, pushed over an edge, hanging on for dear life. Except I was the one who pushed myself over that edge by choosing to start my own business, leaving academia behind. And now, will I bend upward and flourish, spreading my roots to secure me, or will a heavy rain fall? I look at those trees hanging on, and I remind myself that I will hang on, too.