I have always felt like a twig or a gnarly branch of someone else’s tree but no longer. I have had many years of work preparing to separate myself from the others. I realized last night, in a startling image in my head, that I am my own tree now with my roots planted firmly underground.
When people say crazy or exaggerated things, I no longer have to immediately lose my control and jump into their anxiety or depressed fervor. I can look at loose branches, scattering in the wind, twigs darting through the air and I can still be strong.
I was made to be strong, strong for myself and for others. It takes quite a bit of time to be able to do this, to be on one’s own. It has nothing to do with marriage or relationships or even age. I like to think of it as wisdom.
One day, no different from all other days, I saw the image of my tree standing firm inside my head. Even though someone was trying to rudely shake me, break me, tear me down with buzz saws; I stayed. Perhaps my leaves were initially flustered as leaves get in the blustery, cold winds of December, but they settled themselves very calmly after that, snug in their dream-filled evening sleep. The bright, round-faced moon above gave them whatever light they wanted for their entertainment. Initially, they looked to me once to make sure things were alright and I gave them my sign, a wink, a nod and a reassuring smile. Steadiness, calmness, like patience, is what I want to pass on to them, my children. They come back to me year after year with their bursting colors of oranges, red, and yellow in all combinations of brightness. We celebrate together with laughter and hugs, as many as there are stars in the sky. The leaves come back as changed beings, of course, but that is what they need to do, and it is my job to let them. Even when I am bare, I will know, that I am strong, to pave the way that lays silent at dusk.