In this, my last post for 2016, I can’t help looking back and reviewing the year that has been.
And as things stand, it has been a year in which I expanded my reach but had my roots disturbed.
It has been a year in which much was gained but so much more was lost.
The gains include completing my psychology post-grad studies, rebranding my business and designing a website and starting this blog. I have been nurtured by relationships with wonderful people on both a personal and professional level. I am grateful.
But still the dominant theme of 2016 has been that of loss, huge loss and heartbreaking goodbyes.
All things share the same breath - the beast, the tree, the man... the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports. - Chief Seattle
THE LOSS OF A FATHER
In September my much-loved father died.
The death of an elderly person who has lived a brave and full life is not a tragedy for, as philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein says, tragedy is when the tree, instead of bending, breaks.
Death at 86 is bending to nature, giving way.
It is not a sudden snapping and splintering of life. It is just silently slipping away like falling leaves returning to the roots of the forest.
A quiet departure yes, but a heartbreaking blow to the natural balance in my family and to my world.
I have always felt that with my father and I sharing so many interests, this fruit did not fall far from the tree. But now I find myself feeling abandoned, without shelter, somewhere in the middle of a vast veld, far from the fertile forest I have known.
THE LOSS OF A FURRY FRIEND
Then, not long after my father left us, M and I had to say goodbye to our German shepherd dog, Tosca.
This time the decision was ours to make. A difficult choice but seeing this proud and sensitive animal becoming paralysed and losing her dignity, forced our hand.
The house is quiet without her booming voice.
Pottering in the garden has become a solitary activity as the other two mutts do not share my enthusiasm for pruning and hunting snails like Tosca did.
DYING DAYS OF A TREE
And now as we speak, I am also taking leave of my beloved plum tree outside my therapy room.
This tree has been the inspiration for my logo, it has been my sanctuary and I have spent many, many hours in its shade reading, studying, working, kuier-ing or just staring up at the leaves.
A stricken tree, a living thing, so beautiful, so dignified, so admirable in its potential longevity, is, next to a human being, says American author, Edna Ferber, perhaps the most touching of wounded objects.
When we moved to this house 16 years ago it was already a big tree. M is convinced the reason I wanted to live here was because of the tree in the back yard.
He is right I think. I love this tree.
But the tree is old, 60 years or older we suspect. So it dying is not a tragedy in the Wittgenstein-ian sense either.
But it is, oh so very sad.
People in suburbia see trees differently than foresters do. They cherish every one. It is useless to speak of the probability that a certain tree will die when the tree is in someone's backyard...You are talking about a personal asset, a friend, a monument, not about board feet of lumber. - Roger Swain
I feel like this year has left me without shelter for the soul.
Gone is the security that the commanding presence of a guard dog provides. Gone are the love and support and protection for a child by a father. And soon I will be without the shade and shelter of my special tree.
But I am not without roots. I will not be blown over.
And when this fruit dropped from the tree, it fell in fertile soil. Even these experiences will nurture my growth.
And for that I am grateful. Still sad, but grateful.
I am ready for 2017.
I wish you all the best for the new year too. May the fruit of your tree be sweet.
Green leaves on a dead tree is our epitaph – green leaves, dear reader, on a dead tree. - Cyril Connolly
Body-mind or mind-body? If you are struggling with physical and mental pain and feel that the dominant health paradigm’s dualistic approach to mind and body seems inadequate to explain anything, I want to talk to you. Join me under the tree in my garden for a cup of rooibos tea and let’s talk massage and SomaSense!