Thursday, June 29, 2017

     I am not sure why this tree spoke to me, but she did. Mr. Wonderful and I sat beneath her at a lovely open-air restaurant in Santa Fe, New Mexico a week ago. We were delighted that we had a cozy natural niche to enjoy our sunset dinner. When I looked up, I was struck not just by the colossal height of this prize of nature, but by its crooked, yet stately stature. My imagination shifted into “drive,” and I imagined this tree’s mom saying to her when she was little, “You may be crooked, but you will not let that stop you. You will stand tall and you will reign.” And she did. Her giant trunk, now wrapped in tiny lights, stands firm, rooted in her native soil, arms outstretched embracing the wind and reaching for the stars.

     I wonder what parents say to their little ones when they are not perfect—-perhaps a little crooked like this tree. What do we parents say to our children whose imperfections we fear might threaten their acceptance, their growth, their success? Did your parents say anything to you about your imperfections when you were small? Hopefully, not, but if so, do you still remember those words? 

      When I was little, my father always said, “You are just a little better than average, so show the world that you are a leader and that super intelligence is not necessary to be a success.” Well, those weren’t his exact words, but that was the message. It was a mixed message to me. It said, “You are not as smart as some.” It said, “You must work harder because of your limitations.” It said, “I’m here to help you.” I have forgotten the context and the exact words, but to this day, I live the message. I know I have to work harder than many to achieve my goals, but I’ve learned that that is ok. What I have gained is an indomitable spirit to accomplish whatever goal I set. I have learned to always be humble because I know that there are so many way better than me in many ways. I’ve learned that they may get to
the finish line before me, but they may not get there with the self-awareness that I will, and they may not stop along the way to enjoy the process. I have learned to recognize the passion in the process, so it’s not all about the results.

      I am getting ready for my next one-woman show. Although I know there is a great deal of practice, research and grit involved, I look forward to the fascination of learning about others’ lives and how they endured. I love picking out the pieces I’m going to play because I can choose any, and I have no one to “approve” of my choice, but me. I get to create my own script, embellish my characters, dress up like the one I choose and tell her story with my own voice.
It’s like writing a film script and seeing it evolve in my head. What fun! 

     I am a crooked tree. I have many imperfections, and I’m not as pretty as others in the forest. I stand tall, however, proud in what I’ve learned and happy that I will always reach for the stars and welcome the breezes no matter how strong—winds that will try to push me over but also shore me up. How about you? Are you standing tall today?