“So, what’s special today?”
“Haha..I know today is special..I meant what’s special for the special day..”
“Every day I don’t remember that every day is special. Today I do.”
A whatsapp exchange I had with a friend who sent me wishes for my birthday, yesterday.
I turned 40, two years ago. That was a summer of climbing mountains, literally and metaphorically. Mountains of magnificent beauty, terrifying challenges; mountains of pain and panic; mountains of uncertainty; mountains of baggage and clutter rising out of valleys of shallow, broken breath; mountains of snow and silence dancing on plateaus of emptiness and questions.
It was not a point I could come out of without dating transformation. It shook my relationship with the earth and my body, melded them into each other. Inner and outer walls turned transparent. As light slanted in from newer angles, nothing looked the same anymore. More light in the room is not always comforting.
To climb the mountains, I had to tune in – look at the earth and walk. Standing or sitting by would mean solidifying into my deepest fears. Luckily, I found that the mountains, however beautiful, are breath-giving, not breath-taking. The mountains are about movement masked in stillness. A fallen tree covered with creepers and moss is hardly still, if you just look.
As I let trees wash over me, my scattered pieces arrange themselves in new ways. Trees shed skin and leaves, let storm-scars show – all the time. For trees, falling apart is not an aberration, it’s an important station on the journey to becoming whole. Maybe trees are able to make such a song and dance of falling apart and renewing themselves, because they stand rooted in the earth?
As humans we make much of growth, when it comes to babies and profits. Adult humans are supposed to hide and fight growth “after a certain age”.
The last two years of tuning into trees have confirmed the suspicion that there is much to celebrate about “growing older” and owning your body. It is a delicious privilege denied to many. Being locked in eternal youth sounds to me like being cut, covered in cling wrap, refrigerated. Crows-feet at the edges of eyes highlight better, the glow of a smile. Wrinkles seem reassuringly real, definitely on the side of warmth, maybe even wisdom.
These days, I’m finding much to gaze upon in flowers “declining” – fading from the edges; a branch broken and hanging from a tree, a piece of bark shed without a second thought, a perfectly imperfect leaf, a seemingly lost seed pod, a mango bitten by a thinking squirrel.
I’m falling deeply in love with how the earth makes poetry of impermanence; how she chews and changes stink to fragrance, rotten leaves and vegetable peels to fresh vegetables and greens, flat seeds to tall trees.
To fix myself a “special” drink for a “special” day, I treevelled in a little, urban forest – yesterday morning. Tell for yourself – what’s not to get high here?
Oh, and I wish you a special day. Today.