The Tree, Heraclitus and Me

 From where I sit at home my gaze falls every day upon the same tree in the garden.  It has been a focal point for thoughts, reflections, doubts and fears, my coffee companion and a calm source of inspiration for the beginnings of many poems, which leads me to wonder where I would be without all that surrounds me in my particular corner of the natural world, its beauty and how it speaks to me. The tree appears like an old sage, calm, stoical and accepting no matter what; I could learn much if I took more notice. It weathers storms as well as scorching sun without expectation or judgement, and today it is telling me in its own gentle way that very soon all will change, and it will be okay.

I don’t like change, but as we know it is the one constant in life. I researched the origin of these wise words; they were said by Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher pre Socrates; he lived 500 years BC. I think he and the tree in my garden would make a good team.

So, how do I manage this constant of change in the context of my illness and its pernicious nature as it steals more and more from me? I think, sometimes, not very well, although this may be a little harsh (tendency to berate myself lingers), until I remind myself or receive a reminder from elsewhere that tomorrow’s bit hasn’t been stolen yet, so why dwell on something that hasn’t happened.

Life’s journey takes us along many different roads; some of them we can feel are unwanted and, for me, Multiple Sclerosis is one of them. Along this frightening path so far I have stumbled over stones and tree stumps of disbelief, denial, grief and despair many times. Some of those tumbles have been headlong. I have sustained heavy bumps and bruises, most of them very distressing, but maybe necessary, to bring me to awareness within that I never thought was accessible, of coming to know myself with all my imperfections and faults, learning to acknowledge them without judgement, rather like the tree. As time passes, hopefully what I continue to learn will gift to me some wisdom to reflect on all I have accomplished in the past and to celebrate it so, rather than bemoan the fact that those things are no longer possible for me to do.  I am presented with daily challenges (we all are), and I can either use these as opportunities for growth or see them as an obstacle in my way; the choice is mine.

The road is long. As a friend of mine says, who has travelled alongside the debilitating effects of MS for many years, “We do what we can till we can no longer do it, and then we find something else we can do”. The key for me is to keep on finding, and feel a sense of peace and contentment with it despite the changes, a new satisfying place to arrive at. I visualise a purple hillside strewn with heather where I can allow myself time to simply be, and admire the ever changing view of my part of the natural world.

Today the wind blows wild. Leaves are falling up instead of down; a few branches are broken, others have snapped and fallen to the ground. The tree stands tall, roots grounded firmly in equanimity.

 Image

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56 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Janette moran
    Nov 13, 2013 @ 13:58:09

    This is lovely, really moving and such wise words, your writing gets better and better, I love reading it and it really makes me step back and think xx

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 13, 2013 @ 14:02:28

      Aww thank you Janette! I really appreciate your lovely comment!

      The tree has become my friend! And I love watching Theo when he sits beneath it with his little lunch box! 😊 Xxx

      Reply

      • Janette moran
        Nov 13, 2013 @ 14:56:48

        Just wait till he and Solomon are perching on a bench each. I used to love playing around that tree planning elaborate tree houses to build that you and dad would humour us but now as an adult I realise you would never have intended to build ! Trees seem so wise as they see so much of life but just stay steady in the same place xx

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 13, 2013 @ 18:21:52

      Looking forwrd to them both on a bench each. But quite content to wait and let Solomon have his precious baby days. Xx

      Reply

  2. Janette moran
    Nov 13, 2013 @ 13:58:41

    I shall also look at that tree with new eyes xx 🙂

    Reply

  3. Ina
    Nov 13, 2013 @ 14:03:31

    Hi Christine, what a calm, reflective essay, beautiful 🙂 Change is the only constant, and a tree is a good example of that! Best wishes and a hug,
    xx

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 13, 2013 @ 14:39:52

      Thank you very much Ina. Of course there are days when I dont feel calm and reflective, but it wouldn’t be natural would it, to feel like this all the time? Something called “being human” rather gets in the way of that! Lol xx L&H xx

      Reply

  4. pepperandru
    Nov 13, 2013 @ 14:09:48

    Beautiful!

    Reply

  5. journeyintopoetry
    Nov 13, 2013 @ 14:36:35

    Thank you very much pepperandru, for your visit and lovely comment; it’s much appreciated.

    Reply

  6. lscotthoughts
    Nov 13, 2013 @ 14:47:35

    Chris, your reflections are written so beautifully and your tree is gorgeous, along with your photo. Although you may not be at peace all the time, you truly conveyed it here. Your words are soothing, wise and real. Sending tons of hugs and love your way! ♥ HBL

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 13, 2013 @ 18:19:47

      Thanks very much Lauren!

      Its good to re-read things I write such as this as it reinforces that I can have this awareness, so at times I feel down, I do know that whatever happens I can feel content and at peace with where I am, I just need to work harder to get there again.

      Of course I do have days where I question everything, but then dont we all?! Lol

      Love and hugs ❤ xx

      Reply

  7. Libby
    Nov 13, 2013 @ 14:57:00

    Amazing words of wisdom. Beautiful photo too.

    Reply

  8. janetfine
    Nov 13, 2013 @ 15:25:27

    Beautifully reflective and wise Christine. The imagery of the tree really helps to put everything into perspective and to accept what is. I will be thinking about myself as a tree today, ever changing, but roots grounded firmly in equanimity. Xx

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 13, 2013 @ 18:31:31

      Thank you Janet and its so good to see you here.

      Equanimity is such a simple word but to do it or be in it,is another thing altogether, but good when we arive there if only for a while.

      I love this tree and even when I am down it still helps to keep me feeling safe.

      Sending love and hugs to you. Xxx

      Reply

  9. Harry
    Nov 13, 2013 @ 18:59:11

    Lovely piece of writing.

    Reply

  10. Caddo
    Nov 13, 2013 @ 19:13:56

    I love every bit of this–so wise and serene, despite the tumult that sometimes rages within. As I think we’ve probably chatted about, losses often have a paradoxical way of enriching us–which gives us a bounty to share with others. And alongside everything we experience, there is always our freedom of choice as to attitude, how we will think about things. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Janette’s comments too–what a treat! (PS–I’m having tech problems accessing email, so don’t worry if I can’t reply just now. Today, I’m lucky to have access to my blog even.)

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 13, 2013 @ 19:34:21

      Hi Caddo,

      Thank you lovely friend. And yes this is all about what you and I talk about a lot and your support when Im feeling down is something very precious. Its precious when Im feeling good too of course! Oh the times we laugh together are such a joy! Especially the fun we have in the kitchen!

      It was a real treat receiving Janette’s comment! One of your “nieces”!! Dont worry about emails, Im not going anywhere!

      Hs and Ss

      Reply

      • Caddo
        Nov 13, 2013 @ 22:21:19

        I called the cable co. today–they’re “working on resolving” the national outage. Good grief and half a billion!!!

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 14, 2013 @ 15:25:05

      I hope their working and resolving produces some good reaults!

      Reply

  11. Sandie Paluc
    Nov 13, 2013 @ 20:02:51

    Such a beautiful and introspective piece of prose. Your tree may be an inspiration for you, but your exquisitely written perspective is an inspiration for me.Thank you, Christine.

    Reply

  12. PookyH
    Nov 13, 2013 @ 21:52:21

    I check in on your blog every day, hoping that you’ll have written. I have to wait a while each time, but it’s ALWAYS worth the wait. You write beautifully and with each post I understand more about you and your life and your battles and am also made to reflect more deeply on my own life. Your MS makes me feel anger towards my former self who allowed anorexia to ravage an otherwise healthy body – I’m sure you must feel similarly about the days when alcohol tore your body apart long before the MS set in (well long before it was diagnosed in any case). I know that both of our mental health problems were illnesses of the mind and not within our control but it feels like perhaps they should be in a way that MS is always outside of one’s control.

    I’m not sure I’m talking sense to anyone but me – but thank you for another beautifully written and thought provoking post. I admire your strength. To me you are that tree. You may bend in a particularly strong wind sometimes and perhaps even lose a branch or too, but after the storm, you are still standing, strong and ready to inspire.

    Reply

  13. beckarooney
    Nov 13, 2013 @ 22:40:19

    This is a very reflective and profound piece of writing Christine. It takes a truly insightful mind to observe life like you have and then translate it so beautifully and eloquently. I too find much comfort in trees. . . wonderful post, thank you for sharing it 🙂 x

    Reply

  14. triciabertram
    Nov 14, 2013 @ 06:12:50

    My dear Christine, your words reach into my heart and I weep at their profoundness. There is so much I want to say but I can’t find the words right now. All I have is my loving gratitude for your presence in my life.
    You are such a special woman.
    Much love
    Tricia xoxo ❤

    Reply

  15. Francina
    Nov 14, 2013 @ 17:39:58

    You are indeed like the tree, dear Christine! Moving and very well written. I have seen grow you as a writer over time.. The road of change is an unsteady rocky road but you are doing great! lots of love and hugs from across the creek xoxo

    Reply

  16. bardessdmdenton
    Nov 14, 2013 @ 21:18:16

    Nature is such a good place to look to understand our own life cycles … the things we lose, and those we gain. You have so beautifully expressed this through your focus on your friendly and comforting tree, Christine. May it long stand to give you its strength but also its flexibility. You are equally an inspiration!

    A lovely piece of writing, and especially this last paragraph:
    ‘Today the wind blows wild. Leaves are falling up instead of down; a few branches are broken, others have snapped and fallen to the ground. The tree stands tall, roots grounded firmly in equanimity.’ Lots of love and hugs! ♥

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 15, 2013 @ 19:02:53

      Thank you very much Diane! I suddenly realised one day not long ago how much of an influence this lovely tree has been! Whenever I have a quiet moment or am beginning a poem, or worrying even, I am always, always looking at this friendly tree. It is such a comfort to me and I hadnt realised until now! ❤ Xxx

      Reply

  17. Cynthia Jobin
    Nov 14, 2013 @ 22:02:09

    What a lovely meditation, Christine. Of course I read it as soon as you posted it–and several times since— but have been unable to respond until just now as I have been between homes and nearly dead from the process of moving. Today I regained my internet connection and enough stamina to tell you of my great appreciation for your writing. You’re so right about trees….they do indeed seem kindred souls—wordless poets and sheltering friends. Thank you for reminding me….some of my best friends are trees!

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 15, 2013 @ 19:08:47

      Thanks so much Cynthia!

      Wow your move is complete! I hope you are feeling as settled as you can be so far in the process; I expect it will take time to adjust. And thank you for taking the time to comment amid your move! Its much appreciated.

      “Wordless poets and sheltering friends” – thats lovely.

      Reply

  18. tikarmavodicka
    Nov 16, 2013 @ 08:02:25

    Hi Christine,

    This is a beautiful and moving piece of writing!
    I think you have gained much wisdom already and it enfolds the reader in a warm embrace of self acceptance.
    I think it’s a fault for many thinking ahead, justifying it as a way to be prepared, but as you wisely said “why dwell on something that hasn’t happened. ”
    The future is not pre-determinded and maybe some of it is faith. Having the faith in yourself that all your strength and experiances have brought you to this point and whatever the future may bring you have it within you to deal with the new challenges and strength to forge new roads to journey upon.

    Sorry for waffling. That’s just the immediate thoughts your writing brought to mind.
    I feel very inspired by your blog. Inspired to keep on trekking my path and not worry. Afterall I doubt your beautiful tree worried as a sappling if it could ever grow so tall. 🙂

    With lots of love and
    (((Big Warm Hugs)))
    Tikarma
    Xoxoxox

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 16, 2013 @ 14:15:55

      Thank you Tikarma for your lovely, thoughtful comment.

      I think, as you say, it is probably about faith, knowing that I have come this far thereore I will be able to keep going whatever faces me, but I don’t have to think further than today. And this of course applies to us all whatever challenges pop up to say hello.

      I am learning more and more though, to be present in the moment and it brings a certain peace that was mising before.

      I sincerely hope you keep trekking our path with peace. And of course you are right about the tree not worrying. 😊

      Lots of loce and
      (BIG WARM HUGS)))
      Christine
      Xxx

      Reply

  19. bwcarey
    Nov 16, 2013 @ 16:22:01

    your word are so wise, we strive for so much that doesn’t really matter, i’ve seen miracles, you just have to remember, the word can’t does not exist in heaven, amen

    Reply

  20. kristelsaintcyr
    Nov 16, 2013 @ 17:37:06

    Thank you very much for sharing your words so wise and encouraging. You are very courageous and bring new hope to sick people. Votre témoignage est très précieux, car nous connaissons tous des personnes très malades dans notre entourage.

    Reply

  21. leamuse
    Nov 17, 2013 @ 09:41:50

    Christine, this is a declaration of power, courage and strength! So movingly beautiful! I am in awe once again.
    Your tree is a powerful image. Yes, I do understand that focus. The day I first saw my village and knew I had found my home, one of the first sights was of the old Roman bridge that graces one of my blogs. Knowing me as well as you do, you will appreciate the symbolism. Bridges connect and I was home and rapidly connected with my village and those around me.
    Perhaps life is a bit like abstract art? We must adjust our view until we can gain the perception needed to appreciate its gifts.

    Love you,

    Léa

    Xxx 🙂

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 17, 2013 @ 11:33:22

      Thanks so much Lea. I only reminded you as I know you don’t like to miss the posts! And I can appreciate very well the bridge being an important focal point for you! In my “book” it most definitely is a thing of beauty, and yes the fact that they connect…

      I like your analogy of life being like abstract art! 😊

      Love you too

      Christine
      Xxx

      Reply

      • leamuse
        Nov 17, 2013 @ 11:54:20

        Merci beaucoup! I never want to miss one of your posts. I like to think of you here with me whilst I read them and the café steaming in our hands!
        I’m glad you liked my little analogy. They seem to pop-up amongst the cobwebs from time to time…
        Love,
        Léa
        Xxx 🙂

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 17, 2013 @ 12:01:37

      😊 😊 xxx

      Reply

  22. suzywordmuser
    Nov 17, 2013 @ 16:47:12

    Life’s journey sure does take us along many roads, and I find a lot of those roads are very bumpy, an it’s good to have something that acts as a seatbelt! You’re on a wise journey Christine, even if it’s a tough one too! I’ve heard it said before that the worst part to suffering is actually the way our mind reacts to it, and to suffer depression or anxiety is actually far more debilitating than a lot of other painful physical ailments. I suppose that would be like the computers main hard drive malfunctioning, compared to a few gremlin problems with some of the programmes. You can still use a computer that works 50% of the time (just about) but if it’s core is not working – it’s not a computer any more!

    We are all going down a road that will eventually lead to us not being able to do what we used to, it’s just some of us have had to face that a lot earlier than others. It’s amazing when the body is fit and able, how invincible it will tell the mind it is – so not true, we are all heading the same way!!! 🙂

    I think it’s great that you are able to convey to others what you are learning and how you feel, because I’m sure there will be people who might not think like yourself who would stumble across your blog here, and maybe realise that if you can do it, then maybe they too could enter into a new kind of thinking!

    We probably don’t think much about how many random people outside of WordPress will find our blogs or how much it will touch their minds, but they are out there! I had a lady leave a comment a few weeks ago on a poem I did a while back about insomnia. She was so pleased to find it – obviously someone who suffers from that too. And it was great to get a comment from a non blogger! It means a lot, and it’s a pity more people don’t think to do that.

    Just think, I used to be one of those ‘non bloggers’ who used to read your blog – and I didn’t leave you a comment either – shame on me!! 😀

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 19, 2013 @ 17:38:37

      Hi Suzy! And thank you for this lovely comprehensive comment.

      And yes, depression does make whatever we are suffering more difficult to manage. So I try very hard to stay as positive as possible, although its not always possible; being human gets in the way. I have been to depression and back twice and hospitalised for it too. Once you’re in it its very difficult to emerge. But since my diagnosis I have so far maintained my new outlook on life without going too far down. I have down days but then so do we all.

      Its always good to know that someone somewhere may get something helpful from what we post. That is partly why. I write, its a good feeling when we can help even if just a little.

      I had no idea you read my blog before you started blogging! This has given me a big smile. And Im glad you started blogging. I have enjoyed all your posts!

      Xx

      Reply

  23. greenlightlady
    Nov 19, 2013 @ 18:03:20

    These are lovely words springing from a beautiful attitude, Christine. Creation has so much to say to us when we listen closely.

    Blessings ~ Wendy

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Nov 20, 2013 @ 15:10:38

      Thank you very much Wendy!

      I have noticed so much more that nature has to offer, since my diagnosis showed me how to view the world differently. And its exciting because I know I have only touched a tiny part of the surface so far!!

      Blessings
      Christine
      Xx

      Reply

  24. Betty Hayes Albright
    Jan 07, 2014 @ 20:56:52

    Wonderful metaphor – the tree weathering change, as do we. Sometimes change comes faster than we would like. It’s hard to let go of what we’re used to doing, but your courage in doing so is always inspiring (as I’ve said many times). And your growing wisdom. I would imagine, though our bodies start to fail us, our spirit is growing stronger and taller, like that tree.

    (I too had my favorite trees – my “friends” in the yard which I’d watch year round for each little change and sometimes hug. That was the hardest thing about moving – but now there are new trees to bond with here – even though they aren’t “mine” – it doesn’t matter. The help us to grow inwardly, maybe? Through analogy, of course….)

    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful and heartfelt essay with us, Christine.

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Jan 08, 2014 @ 09:59:33

      Thank you Betty.

      You are so right! Change has come at lightening speed for me in the past two years and some days I feel I just cant keep up with it all. There is still, after a diagnosis now two years old, an element of shock when I look at myself and think, “when did this happen!”

      However on the positive side I have made some wonderful new friends, of whom you are one and this just wouldn’t have happened. Keeping positive isn’t easy as I know oh will understand but really its the only way to be; negativity certainly doesn’t get us anywhere. Although I do believe we need to allow ourselves some moments of negativity, acknowledge that they are real and will keep coming and then try to move forward.

      Love and hugs
      xxx

      Reply

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