I’ve walked under the branches of this tree on my walk for the last 12 years, but it wasn’t until just a few days before the new year that I noticed the loop in that low-hanging one. The way it took that sudden bend up looked as if that branch had gotten a really good idea and gone for it, growing straight up toward the light. What a curious thing, I thought. What had gotten into it? I wondered what year that had been. Maybe 1967?
But then something happened not too long after because the limb took a sudden nose dive down. Had there been bad weather? A blight of some kind? An interruption of resources? Whatever was bringing it low must have been hard because the branch rode that depression down for a good long time.
Once it got past the fence, though — let’s say that was 1983 — there was a recovery period. This uptick lasted for quite a while — probably a good decade — but it wasn’t sustainable and the branch dipped back down for many years. But by 1999 (just making up dates as I please) something had lightened, something had gotten figured out because ever since there has been a gradual, gentle uplift, as if after all that branch had been through, it had gotten wise in some way. It had worked it out.
After seeing that loop I wondered how on earth I could have walked under a branch looping like that right above my head for 12 years and never seen a thing until three days before the start of 2020, the year of perfect vision. It feels providential, like the tree caught my eye so it could suggest that growing toward the light would be a good way to begin the next decade. So here I am, just passing the tree’s message along. It wants me to say it again so I will:
“Growing toward the light would be a good way to begin the next decade.”
When I think about what I love so much about that tree, what comes out to me so clearly in the tree’s message is how much we also need our crazy loops. The pain of those loops may be cruel, but what we do with it can sure be beautiful. And after all, we are nothing special without our twists and turns. And without our loops we know nothing. There is beauty in a loop and that beauty is in the recovery, in the return.
So here’s to a year of 20/20 vision and growth. May yours be wise and gentle or wild and beautiful.
Interesting side fact: just beyond the white house, semi-visible through the trees, is Stephen King’s house.
Full disclosure: I clearly know nothing about how and why trees grow. If you do and it turns out that aspirations, misfortune, depression, recovery, growth and wisdom has nothing to do with it, please figure out how to make this whole developmental metaphor still work before telling me.