My eyes were drawn to a simple branch growing out from under the rocks near the Squamish river. The sun had come out after many unending days of rain, and the heaviness of my water-logged heart was just beginning to evaporate.
The rain here is a gift; it is a cure. But after many days of wet and a mean sort of reach-into-you cold, a person has spent too much time shut in and feeling their own disease; the limitations of this flesh container. I needed some kind of release. I had my camera, and I was searching for inspiration; for art to capture and make my own in some way that would connect me more tangibly to life outside of myself. It was time to pay attention.
This branch captured my eye – a serendipity. It was deep red in colour. It looked sturdy, defiant, and fragile all at once. I felt a sense of comradarie with it for the certain struggles it had undergone to rise up from its form as a seedling underneath the rocks, having been drowned over and over again, cold and compressed, fighting its way to growth – every inch. Me and you both, little branch.
It stood about three feet high now, but seemed very strong as it was small but deeply rooted. Its buds had formed. They were tight and sticky, shiny and defensively shelled in some natural lacquer. Though I’m sure it had been ignored by most passersby – perhaps not much to look at, just a little branch seemingly out of place, jutting out from between the rocks – it seemed to be aware of its potential for growth, as if it was keeping a proud and unapologetic secret with itself; just as we humans do in the face of indifference, that we might overcome it.
This secret moved me. This potential for growth. These buds (and me) ready and waiting for starlight, so patiently, so expectant. Absorbing every nutrient and mineral and fraction of light available; getting stronger and stronger as the days lengthen and winter departs, leaving us all unburied again. We are exposed and in need of nurture, ready to be affected and changed by the warm, bright, unfolding truth of spring. That exciting time when all of the hard casings are shed, the tight buds soften, the miracle of what we really are slowly starts to take form and shape, and we are tenderly and masterfully painted with the vibrant colours of our true being.
I have also held that secret in a safe place in my heart – the one about potential for growth, about destiny – knowing it would one day be realized. And so, like this branch, I have been going about the work of quietly defying the odds. We never stopped growing, even when it was hard work. Loveless. Unwitnessed.
And here I am looking at this wonder-full branch, this survivor, this hero of the natural world, with such admiration and empathy; knowing it will soon become something more…amazing. Stronger. Bigger. A part and not separate. It will keep growing…up. Its buds will break open and blossom, reflecting their beautiful, hard-earned truth out to the world. And so will I.