On a walk with my dog, there is no way to avoid walking on the hackberries and then the debris from the ash tree along the sidewalk by our house. There they are all strewn out in hope and abundance. It is nature’s way, in the spring and the fall, to shower down an abundance of seeds, berries, blooms in order to ensure continuance. A beautiful symbol for us, really. Yet, mixed with that observation I remember the scorn, resentment and sometimes outright neurosis of people who saw or see this aspect of nature interfering with their sense of order, neatness, convenience and other structures of thought that have been built in opposition to what is natural.
The idea that a tree is messy comes to mind. That was a foreign concept when I first heard it. “I hate that tree. It is so messy! Cut it down!” I had not experienced that attitude in my own family and as an adult it was an abrupt introduction that came with home ownership. What I was hearing was that walnut trees were a nuisance because they get in the way of mowing, mulberries are weed trees because they grow so quickly, stain pavement and allow the birds to poop purple poop on freshly washed cars; that a person would love to have a flowering tree or a tree with berries but they are so messy! I had only ever known that trees are homes for many creatures, they help us breathe cleaner air, provide shade; walnut trees feed the squirrels in the winter, mulberries feed the birds and people. The “messiness” comes and goes in cycles and once was recognized and appreciated as food, fruit, harvest.
I wonder at how creativity and especially creative people living in ways that are different (than the structures set in place by today’s institutions and “traditional” venues as THE way to be and work and live) are seen and treated so much like the critics I thought of who spoke of and treat certain trees that bear fruit, nuts and other debris with such animosity and disrespect.
The idea of the “nuisance” of these fruitful trees is created because of made up constructs that go unquestioned.
“If my cement is stained, I will not be liked or respected. If birds poop on my car it affects the value, the paint, my esteem and causes me to have to wash my car again. If there are walnuts in my yard I will have to do extra work because I need to mow my lawn. I need to have grass and mow my lawn because that is what everyone does. If I have debris from trees all over my yard it has to be cleaned up. I must keep my yard manicured like the aristocracy from England of old so as to denote my status, esteem and untouchableness. I must use pesticides to maintain a “perfect image”. ”
For me personally, if someone judges me or sees my property as less because there are some passing stains from nature on the cement, or clovers and violets growing more than grass, I see them as missing what is really important in life and forgetting the deeper harmony and appreciation for nature and what nature requires. I remember that the artificial constructs are constantly demanding us to be overly self-conscious, to the point of applying poisons to our own land and seeing nature as nuisance and even, sometimes, enemy to be homogenized.
Cement is there to help us to walk and drive more easily. That is all. It is utilitarian. Is it good to take care of what you have on the material level? Of course. And it can become a preoccupation and a distortion too.
Click and Clack from Car Talk (NPR) always suggested it is better to get a used car than a new one. They knew that then a person is less prone to becoming outrageously upset about every scratch, ding or smattering of bird poop and can relax about it. There are more important things in life than getting mad about bird poop on cars because of certain trees.
Some of this is about wanting control and order. Some of it is about stupid norms in our society that ignore and refuse to respect the wisdom and gifts of nature. And it has gotten to the point where this kind of mindset is threatening nature and her creatures in critical and serious ways. And it affects our health. In many ways. Our health and well-being is strengthened and enhanced by connecting with nature and her elements, by feeling a part of the natural world. When we respect and recognize the gifts and power of even the messiest parts of nature, we begin to allow that kind of wild messy abundance that exists within our own being as well.
So my shoes have berries pasted to the bottom of them by pine needles with sap and ash tree debris to boot. So my cement is stained for a while and my yard is unruly like a mini forest. So what? Am I less human? Is it less valuable?
I am a creative person who lives in a counter-cultural way. Not because I want to be different, but because that is how I am wired and who I am. I don’t seem to fit in with the Institutional, the highly organized and structured corporations, the mainstream “Traditional” structures….even if I want to, I have ended up feeling like those messy trees when I try. I am regularly told by those who know me how talented I am, how many gifts I have and such a great ability to teach, yet I don’t seem to fit anywhere. I don’t seem to have value in this monetarily centered world. I don’t believe that, but that is the message I have gotten overall from it.
I realize that the only way I am to hope to make a sustainable living is to jump through their hoops, which would be a death to my spirit at this point, OR make my own way, plodding along, throwing my fruit and seeds everywhere I can and further with the help of the wind (Spirit) in hopes of continuance via messy abundance in harmony with nature.
The concrete and the literal can always be symbolic of inner states of being and outer realities. There is always depth and purpose strewn out before us. Sometimes the people we love are messy and inconvenient. And when they are gone, that is often what we miss most. When the children are small the chaos and demand and mess can seem stressful. When they are older it is missed. When the dog destroyed beloved material objects or ripped up the garbage, it was outrageous and bad. When they are gone, that short life, that messiness is missed and thought of with humor and tenderness.
When we realize this, we raise our awareness to a level that embraces the wisdom of nature. Mother Nature, our Earth is ordered chaos, messy abundance, wild wisdom and beauty. As are we, when we free ourselves from the facades and constructs that have alienated our being from simple wisdom and simple truths.