I like taking pictures of trees. If you have ever perused my instagram account you will know this to be true. Something about a tree set against a sky background appeals to me. Especially when the trees are bare, in hibernation, waiting for life to take hold again. I think they are beautiful then and I think we can relate to them a bit. For example, we all tend to grow leaves to hide our branches. In our case, our souls are our branches and we hide them behind leafy green images of ourselves in order to make us seem more beautiful. But what are our leaves? While there are many things we tend to hide behind I’m only going to discuss three. Because, as you know and I have mentioned previously, I am not an expert. This is only my own observation.
Leaf number one: busyness.
First of all, I spelled that right. I’m talking about the fact everyone is busy or feels the need to be busy. We have over-scheduled and over-planned the details of our lives. There is no room for neither spontaneity or stillness. If we are not as busy as so-and-so then we must be lazy. And laziness is a weak character trait. I’m not here to argue that point. It may very well be a true statement. What I am saying is that sometimes our busy schedules don’t give us time to expose our branches or our souls. It is easy to hide behind schedules because if we don’t slow down and connect no one will get to know us. Others will see us as competent go-getters because we are always doing something. What they don’t see (because we don’t allow it) is the toll all that rushing does on our branches. We allow no time to simply be. The autumn comes for the busy person when he or simply gets too tired and burns out. The busyness leaves fall until the branches are exposed. It happens inevitably but when and how varies for each person.
Leaf number two: fear
Let’s just call it by today’s term: anxiety. Anxiety and worry make a person do things that they maybe wouldn’t do otherwise. I can attest that anxiety has made me do some pretty odd things and given me strange behaviors. Not only has it led me down some weird action-paths but it has also been responsible for some embarrassing reaction-paths as well. I am not my anxiety and for someone watching me I feel better about myself if I can differentiate my actions from me. It’s not “the devil made me do it” but “anxiety made me do it.” Let me be clear, I am not justifying hurtful behavior. I’m just saying that fear has a tendency to control action and until we get a handle on that fear that is what and who we will be. The autumn for this leaf comes when we recognize the anxiety ourselves and take actions (medication and/or counseling) so that we can control it. Don’t become the servant of your anxiety, figure out how to get on top of it.
Leaf number three: expectations
This is a big one because it encompasses so much. It’s the expectations of what we think we should be doing and where we should be at in life. It also includes the expectations of others. Or where we think they think we should be at or should be doing. It is a prickly leaf that is unhealthy. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” said Eleanor Roosevelt, and she is correct. However, she doesn’t mention how to block out those unwanted feelings. The easy answer is to have confidence in yourself. Even though the answer is easy the action is difficult. So, we tend to let those pesky expectations creep in and control us. As I mentioned, it’s a bit of a double whammy because not only do we have the expectations of others but we also have to contend with our own expectations. Plan B’s are often considered as failures. The thing is, each day is a new day that we have never lived. How do we know today what our tomorrow self should look like? We plan – and I do believe in plans – but we don’t actually know until we live it. Be kind to yourself when you’re setting those expectations. The autumn for this leaf tends to come when we swing the pendulum the other way and become apathetic. The trouble with the motion of the pendulum is the opposite swing tends to be just a little higher. In other words, the counter-action of managing expectations is not to care at all. That is just as unhealthy.
These are three “leafs” that cover our “branches.” There are definitely others. I thought of these because they are personal examples that I have noticed. However, a leaf is actually part of a tree. Others judge us by what they see and know about us. Our actions are not exactly separate from us they stem from us. All the busyness, fear, and expectations are actually part of us until our autumn comes. At some point, an autumn will come and expose our branches. At least, that is the lesson of the trees.