Dwell, Musings, Photography

Grow dammit!

October 22

Growth is something you expect plants to do, think about it, next year you expect that sapling tree in your front yard to be taller, bigger, more robust. I remember when I was 9-years-old, Mom let me plant my favorite tree in the front yard. I went to the nursery and picked out the MOST perfect tree; a blue spruce. What I loved most about blue spruce trees was the memories of playing beneath their blue tripped pine needles as a small child. I remember how they smelled and how they looked, huge giants peaking out of the morning mist as they lined the parkway. The parkway was my favorite spot to play, to ride through on my bike as fast as my little legs could pump just to have the fragrant air in my nostrils and feathering over my skin. One day I asked my older, wiser sisters what sort of trees they were and they uttered the magical words:

“Blue Spruce.” 

 

It became my Indian name, that along with Laughing Brook and Morning Dove (Morning Doves liked to make their nest in the parkway and I thought their mournful call heart-wrenchingly epic). So we planted my baby blue spruce in the dull colored soil. I found the most perfect position for my most perfect tree, where you could see her out the dining room window, and when you drove up the lane, and when you played in the yard. Then I waited. And waited. And watched. And sat with her in the sun sharing my stories of great romance and heartache (from a child’s perspective) and lovingly preening her pine needles. 

 

The next year I raced out of the house expectantly, only to find her just a tiny bit bigger. 
“Why?” I wailed to my Mom. It’s supposed to be a towering giant under whose limbs I can play! Grow dammit! 
Blue Spruce grow slowly, it takes years to perfect their towering height and finely frosted needles. It takes years to reach that level of perfection.

 

The purpose behind the blue spruce story is that this frustration and the words, “Grow Dammit,” have revisited my life and fallen from my lips frequently this past year, only this time directed at stunted humans. In humans, personal growth sometimes seems something like a bloody miracle. It’s not easy or kind to your ego or even pleasurable. It takes some elbow grease and some plain, old fashion honesty: you’re far from perfect. 

I find it eternally exhausting always battling for the right way of doing things (I’m not saying I always know what it is, but I definitely can recognize what it isn’t;) and coming up against ego trips and insecurities and spiteful jealousy. I’m always amazed at how far along this journey of life people can get without sitting down and having a frank conversation with themselves (I think it should be required as part of all passport applications, would definitely make my life easier;). 

But unfortunately it’s a fact of life, and no amount of bitching can solve it (trust me, I’ve bitched for years). So finally, after another such individual happened along my path (I think I attract them like a magnet) I finally realized that the only part I actually control is……..duh duh dum….my response.


And it dawned on me while writing the word, “empower,” (coincidentally) that those who feel un-empowered try to take power away from people around them. They try to make you feel small so that they can feel powerful.  They come from all walks of life, in all shapes, forms, and ages. (Yes, that was my morning epiphany over coffee…all good things worthy of noting happen over coffee btw;).


The solution is simple, tt’s something I do frequently while working with at-risk youth. EMPOWER. Empower them by pointing out their strengths and by giving them a purpose. 


That’s what we’re all really looking for in life, right? 

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