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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mother Nature's Wild Child

Nature is a glamorous lady. She knows who she is and inspires confidence from those around her. Her kingdom follows a pre-set pulse, birds migrate, seasons change, stars sparkle, and the sun rises. Harmonious and elegant, dangerous, and powerful, she is a focused force who does not suffer fools lightly. Each of nature’s children dances to her rhythm, effortlessly following a pre-destined path, and accepting where it leads. Then there is man… a bumbling bundle of nail-biting neediness and knuckle cracking ambition, wondering at his purpose, and fearfully grasping for more. Oblivious to nature’s tempo he dances to his own beat, trampling on toes in his quest for dominance.

Homo sapiens are unique mammals, gifted with free-will, and possessing the mental aptitude to question everything. They are clever and capricious, creating miracles and monsters. They have been honored as the most benevolent of beings and condemned as the most cursed and loathsome creatures in all of creation. In their minds they are the crème de la crème of species; the smartest, upright walkingest, thumb bearingest, beings ever conceived. So, if mankind is so stunningly superior, why then are they sometimes so ignorant?

I was walking through my neighborhood the other day and instead of returning home I settled on a swing hanging from a large oak tree in my neighbor’s yard. The shade was so refreshing that I decided to recline for a while. Looking up from beneath the tree’s canopy I was struck by the amount of activities taking place within its branches.

Here was a massive plant contently offering its gifts back to the earth. I felt small and selfish compared to this vast and generous hardwood. I wanted to know this tree better, so I listened carefully and this is what I heard: “I am a tree with luminous leaves, waving like the swells on a malachite sea. My branches search the air, reaching toward Venus, spreading like the expansive darkness which confines the stars to heaven, and shading moonstruck lovers as they kiss beneath my leafy veil. Birds flock to me for refuge, settling into their twiggy nests while chirping lullabies to their nodding chicks. Children climb high upon my shoulders, seeking enchanted castles amidst the clouds, and pirate ships cruising along the opaque horizon. My roots run deep, and my exalted purpose is to mirror my mother’s nurturing beauty and my father’s unfathomable love. This satisfies me completely. Who are you?”

I was unprepared for the question...and blushing with humility. Quietly I searched my heart for a reply. After much consideration I realized that the answer was simple, so I spoke, “My name is Leah. I’m one of the billions of souls inhabiting this planet. I’m following my heart, making mistakes, and learning how to love, which satisfies me completely. Nice to meet you.”


Anonymous said...

From Ms. Delph;
Leah, this brought tears I tell you! Tears to my eyes. We are stars. We are a manifestation of the universe trying to understand what and who we are, looking at ourselves and the vast space in which we inhabit and yet we are so much more...

Made me think and I love that about you! =o]

Leah Griffith said...

Ms. D., I feel the same way. We're always seeking to fit in with, understand, and live, in this vast space. It's all so big ...yet so personal. Blogger can be annoying sometimes. I don't know why. But thank you for taking time to share your thoughts on the post. It means a lot to me to know that I make people think;)

Jayne said...

Leah- I am not at all surprised that the tree spoke to you, for you are as generous and welcoming as the luminous-leaved hardwood. Indeed, luminous yourself.
Your writing is glorious. GLORIOUS! And so inspiring. How I loved the way you answered the tree's question. (And you thought it would ask nothing of you?)

This reminds me of Octavio Paz's poem, which I had the great fortune to read elsewhere just the other day:

I am a man: little do I last
and the night is enormous.
But I look up:
the stars write.
Unknowing I understand:
I too am written,
and at this very moment
someone spells me out.
(Brotherhood: Homage to Claudius Ptolemy)

Thank you, Leah, for sharing this beautiful story. (And the photo!) :-)

Leah Griffith said...

Jayne, I have discovered that if I listen carefully enough everything speaks, although it’s nearly impossible to hear anything when running with earbuds in. Not that I actually do that…I haven’t ran in years, it’s just a metaphor for being too busy to notice ;)
Your compliment made me blush. Thank you, Jayne.
The poem was lovely. Was this something you read at the conference? How was the conference? I want to hear all about it!

Jayne said...

Leah- I found the poem on another website, and now I want to read a lot more Paz--whom we did not discuss at the conference.
The conference was wonderful! I loved the three poetry workshops that I took, and there were several interesting presentations. I also got to listen to Jennifer Egan (A Visit from the Goon Squad) tell us about her writing methods. She was so sweet in person (and seemed a little nervous, too!). It was comforting to hear that the idea for her last novel (Goon Squad) percolated for eight years. It makes me feel less of a failure.
Based on the Ocean State conference, I'd be happy to continue attending conferences. It was quite a generative experience. :-)

Leah Griffith said...

Jayne-that sounds so fantastic! I love that you are discovering new poets… and finding out that most writers are insecure procrastinators with swollen hearts, afraid of emptying themselves out on paper, lest they be diminished because of the emptying, and their words discarded as common and forgettable.
We writers are a broody bunch, hen sitting on our wordy nests, incubating sagas and sequels, afraid to step away… even when we know we’re smothering our chicks. You are no where near a failure. You just like the rest of us…neurotic;)

JANU said...

This is beautiful Leah....hats off to you. Wonderful and creative writing.

Leah Griffith said...

Thank you Janu, I do love colorful writing.

Cathy said...

Oh so evocative.

Jodi Chapman said...

This is such a beautiful post, Leah. I love the tree's description of itself, and I love your description of yourself. You got it just right. Pure love.

sulekkha said...

You are a writer after my own heart!!! I just love love love your words, Leah.The tree in the picture looks like a lady with her arms outstretched towards the sky :))

Leah Griffith said...

Thank you Sulekkha <3 I can't take credit for the photo, it was a snag from google images, but I love it!

Martha J. M. Orlando said...

The images you have woven here are stunning, Leah. When you described all the tasks the tree was doing (who she was), it reminded me of Jesus telling the parable of the mustard seed which, though the tiniest, grows into a giant tree and provides shelter for the birds. I think He would have liked your embellishment!
As always, your writing leaves me breathlessly enchanted. I always wish to read more!
Blessings to you!

Susan Deborah said...

Leah, this is what is called an ecocentric perspective. You are so much in tune with the pulse of the non-human entities around you. I wish every child grows up like you so that every organism is valued for what it is and not according to human perspective.

May your tribe increase.

Joy always,

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