The Tree of Life
It happens frequently and usually in the midst of the happiest of days. The sun is shining, and I feel the warmth of its glow on my shoulders. A gentle breeze blows playfully through my hair. In the distance I hear the cheerful melody of a chorus of birds singing completely out of synch, but quite intentionally. It’s a sound I always notice and enjoy. All is calm, all is bright. Then suddenly I hear the giggles of little girls nearby, and without warning an earthquake shakes the foundations of my soul. Memories rush in and flood my mind like a tsunami wave that engulfs my brain with an uncontrollable force, and the water gushes outward from my eyes and cascades to the ground taking my joy with it.
For a moment or two or three, I let the tsunami consume me with its reminders of days gone by. With great remorse I am carried through the murky waters of yesterday as it picks up speed and swallows up everything in its path, leaving no trace of the peaceful place I sat only seconds before. When I have experienced enough pain, I begin to struggle against the force of the wave’s pull, and I gasp for air and a glimpse of the bright sunlight and blue sky that I know is still there begging me to return to its warmth; the warmth of the present moment. But it is not easy to rise above the pull of the surge of memories.
In time the wave recedes, not without causing some damage. Usually my mood has been drastically altered, a seemingly sudden shift to those who are sitting right beside me yet have miraculously escaped the wrath of the tsunami. I’m too exhausted from fighting against the current to bother to explain the trauma I have just experienced. It takes time, some days more than others, to pick up the pieces of the devastation and return to the safe zone which is somehow in the exact location where the wave just crashed. I suppose the length of time depends on the size of the wave. Some are more powerful and more consuming than others.
I remember watching the video footage of the Sri Lanka tsunami some years ago. It seemed that often the most immediate help and hope for survival were firmly planted trees. Terrified and powerless people latched onto the large trees and their deep roots for safety and security amidst the forceful flow of the waters that raged and dislodged everything in sight. Those images are good reminders for me to hold onto the tree of life, which is planted right here and now in the present moment. Its roots run deep and are securely grounded, providing the stability and strength I need to keep me safe. The tree of life is here and now. I must remember to clasp onto it and remain in the peace of current moment, rather than being swept away by the destructive currents of a tsunami that exists only in my mind.
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