I don’t believe in cutting down trees because I believe in trees! Something mysteriously ancient in me resonates with trees — especially the grand old evergreens of my native Pacific Northwest. At the risk of sounding a little loopy… I have felt since childhood that I can sense the spirit of a tree. Each one is alive after all. I recently explained this to my grandson who looked at me in wonder when I told him how I saved the trees on our Florida property from the ravages of a hurricane.
“How did you do that, Gram?”
“When I heard the hurricane was coming, I hugged each tree and told it to stand strong.”
“Did it work?”
“It sure did! None of them fell, even though all the trees next door were blown down.”
(In truth, one of ours actually did uproot. My husband had disliked that Jerusalem Thorne at the end of the driveway for years. I think he actually notched the trunk before the first gale.)
So. Trees are good, and cutting one down is not to be taken lightly. Even so, one of the 200 ft. firs overlording our Washington woodland is no longer standing among his stand of brothers. We hired professional arborists to put him out of his dying misery last week, along with a few sickly cedars, a dead deciduous, and last but not least, a gigantic maple. That one killed me, because I knew we were killing it. The poor thing wasn’t nearing the end of its life like the others; it was in its prime, rotating through the seasons with aplomb. But Honey had gradually convinced me that the gigantic maple was mostly a nuisance, so down he came.
And I cried.
For about ten seconds.
The maple memorial was brief because it only took me that long to feel the sun on my face! And when I looked up, I saw sky! Sky! Blue, shimmering sky! It electrified all of us, including the dozens of remaining trees in the greenbelt: the feeling, the change, was gloriously instantaneous and celebratory.
I’ve experienced that same exhilaration and liberation many times in my life, but it’s never had to do with a tree before. It has, however, always had to do with removing something I overvalued that was blocking my view: my intellectual or spiritual view, that is. The process can be complicated, lengthy, and painful–like the hours it took to saw down that tree–but the moment of clarified, rarified vision usually happens all at once. And in a burst — in a proverbial “lightbulb moment” — the world turns upside down and you suddenly realize that you like it better that way!
Though dramatic, life-altering events (illness, accident, near-death, divorce, loss) can change a person’s perspective in a flash, why wait for the traumatic to inevitably force your hand? If a relationship or situation is causing you unhappiness or frustration, and you’ve tried everything you can think of to fix it without success, there IS at least one thing you CAN “fix” in a “heartbeat”; one hopeful avenue to increased love, peace, and happiness.
The solution might require emotional and intellectual prep work; it will probably mean seeking out education specific to your situation and opening your heart to the inspiration of others who have successfully passed through a similar predicament — but — if information, humility and desire are all genuine, things can click into place in one glorious minute, and the life that has been so complicated and consternated, can suddenly appear so much simpler, so clear, so ready to receive the new you-with-a-new-vision.
Here are some ideas for how to nurture, or prepare yourself for a change of perspective. Remember, how much time the prep work takes will vary according to how much of yourself you are able and willing to invest in the process, but the following, in any combination and in any order, will help bring on your “moment” of truth:
1. Take time for self-reflection, including pondering the past and journaling your insights.
2. Begin a personal study on the topic of your frustration.
3. Take a class on the topic you are wrestling with, optimally a live class that involves the stories and support of others (like the WifeSavers Course and Community).
4. Spend quality time with wise, mature people who have been through your situation (finding a mentor you trust is ideal). Professional counseling may also be a helpful, even necessary option.
5. Be alone in nature.
6. Listen to beautiful music.
7. Immerse yourself in a great book(s), as in literature and scripture.
8. Do something physical. A one-time hike/stroll, or a new regular exercise routine clears the mind and strengthens the spirit. Making genuine love with your spouse counts too.
9. Experience something completely new and foreign to you.
10. Find an outlet for your creativity; something that feeds your soul in a way that’s uniquely you.
11. Give to others: do something helpful for someone(s) in difficulty. Better yet, commit to continuous, dedicated service. Invest yourself in a worthy cause.
12. Say a long prayer. Say many prayers. Tap into your faith.
Finally, dare to hope, dare to dream. You will find the answers. I can promise that — not only because I have experienced transformation over and over myself in many areas of my life, but because I work with women everyday who are in the process of transformation. Contributing to their “prep” work — their education and inspiration — is a joy, but I’ll tell you what: there is NOTHING more thrilling than being present at the moment when the tree (that’s been keeping them in shadows for so long) crashes to the ground. Sun and the sky stream into the soul.
A mood doesn’t change your life. But an altered perspective changes everything.
What experiences have you had or seen in others that have taught you the possibility and the power in a change of perspective?
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