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Monday Photo Meditation: Strong Limbs and Stronger Roots

Willows Reaching Resized

There are days when being earthbound seems not so much a pleasant proposition.

Normally, at this time of year, we would be at the mercy alternately of the mud and of the winds. Lacking any real winter, this year we have only the latter to torment us, but they carry with them walls of dirt and whorls of dust, particulate matter composed of a million million tiny grains of silica — sharp enough to cut like a blade, gritty enough to exfoliate the skin of human and earth alike.

At this time of year, being grounded is not such a gift.

Today is bad; tomorrow will be ghastly. The forecast calls for gusts in excess of seventy miles per hour, a climate not fit for anything living to be abroad in it. Still, there will be moments when we must be out of doors; the animals require attention and care, after all. But we can expect to bow involuntarily before an elemental force far more powerful than we will ever be, our bodies bent beneath a gale strong enough to lift us off our feet, skin abraded by walls and whorls of dust composed of a million million grains of silica.

At such times, we can learn from the trees’ example.

They are more deeply rooted than we, true, their own foundation extending solidly into the earth itself. Our physical bodies do nothing more substantial than walk upon its surface, although our cultures and traditions may run much deeper, in what may be very literal terms. On days of great physical storm and stress, it is precisely to those roots we must return: If the physical world will not hold us fast, we must find stability and solidity within more spiritual realms.

But the trees have more to teach us now: strength, in the face of oppositional force; flexibility, to all ow us to bend rather than break under the pressure exerted. And they teach us the value of aspiration: of looking beyond our immediate purview, and reaching beyond it, too. What we see may well exceed our grasp, but that is no reason to fail to reach upward, outward — through dust and wind and atmosphere, reaching for the sky.

Yes, there will be times when we injure a limb, perhaps lose it entirely. As the trees know, and our ancestors knew, too, we can survive more than we think we can. We have already done so.

For now, in this place, we are solidly in the throes of the hardest season of the year. There will be days when forward movement seems too difficult; days, too, when more powerful forces render it physically impossible. At such a time, our only progress may consist of staring at the sky, cementing our resolve to reach that which at the moment remains stubbornly beyond our grasp.

At such a time, that is progress enough: to be still standing; to bend instead of break; to fix our gaze on better days and to continue to work, and reach, for them.

And in the process, we may find ourselves possessed of strong limbs and stronger roots, too.

~ Aji









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