Susan Scott, author of “Learning from Trees,” is a therapist who works with her clients by walking outdoors with them, using the natural world as teacher. We were admiring a beautiful, twisted, gnarled tree together once. She pointed out that this tree is how it is now because of a million factors governing its existence: climate, the soil, surrounding vegetation and animal life, human activity, etc.
It dawned on me that the tree itself does not rage at its plight, nor think itself more beautiful or capable than other trees. It just reaches for the sun in this way. It nourishes itself in this way. More important, (and this is the point here), when I first saw the tree, my immediate thought was “What a beautiful, interesting tree!” I didn’t think, “This tree is all twisted out of shape. It needs to be enlightened like that straight-up tree over there.”
And so now, when I look down at the way my beloved partner has loaded the dishwasher, I smile at myself, and I remember: She reaches for the sun, in this way. Or (and this is a little harder), when I’m in a particular morass of self-loathing for whatever reason, I can remember, with some tenderness: I reach for the sun, in this way. It’s a modest beginning. But it’s a start.