Friday, May 16, 2008

Reincarnational Trees

The changing of seasons usually leads me to reflect upon how the life cycle of a tree is not that different from our own.

In spring, flowering trees announce themselves to the world. They are full of color and pluck like a child who does not yet care what the world thinks of him or her. The flowers give way to fresh green leaves that have a newness about them. They are full of new life and chirping birds, reveling in spring. I think of this like our 20's, when we still have a spring in our step and haven't been jaded by too many disappointments. That fresh green begins to dull in the heat of the summer. The trees are working hard at the task given to them; produce and store up for the harder times. Then in fall, like people who energetically embrace the transition into their retirement years, the trees heave out the last breath of life with an explosion of vibrant color. It's as if they are paying homage to the hard work of the middle-aged years of summer. Winter comes and the trees fall silent and pass into the hinterlands of their temporary death.

I used to see this year-long cycle of the trees as a parallel to the life of a human. This morning I rethought that analogy. Is life ever linear? Do we ever transition from one phase to another a clean break, never to revisit the past? That's not how my 28 years have played out so far. Instead, I'm constantly cycling through phases of life. Sometimes I regain a wonder for the newness of the everyday mundane tasks of life. Other times, even though living, I go through the motions of my life with a deadness in my heart and mind.

But the trees are like that too. Their lives are continuous cycles of death and rebirth. Sometimes spring is short and winter is long. Other years the celebration of Fall goes on weeks longer than normal. Why must the pluckiness of youth be limited to my teenage years? Can I not regain it in my middle-age?

I want my life to be like a tree's life, reincarnated with seasons.

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