Oahu is beautiful. There are sunsets that will suck the breath right out of your chest. The massive banyan trees look like they could pick up root and lumber down the way if you took your eyes off of them. Sometimes you startle a flock of yellow-fronted canaries, and then they startle you with their breathtaking upflight into the sunlight.
While walking one afternoon, I stopped and looked closely at the trunk of this papaya tree. All around the trunk, every foot and a half, are a half dozen heart-shaped scars. I looked fifteen feet above me to see what might be making these beautiful scars on the tree. At first observation, it appears that when each generation of fruit comes to bear, the large leaves that nestled that fruit begin to wither and die. Eventually the heavy, dead leaves drop off to the fertile ground below. They decompose into the soil and cyclically nourish the tree in their demise. When the leaves drop off, they leave behind the mark of a heart on the trunk. Every. Single. Time.
The papaya (botanical name, Carica papaya) is a powerhouse of nutrition and medicine.
See here for the full break down (PDF).
And like most plants and trees, every single part of it is useful. It’s a perfect tree to use to illustrate a life of intention and purpose, a life with ruts and hardship, a life with joys and mountain-top experiences. It’s also an ideal cosmic model for resiliency and adaptation at the personal level.
Where is your life at this moment? Where is it in the life cycle of the papaya? Is it fruitful and protected by stalwart leaves, and safe from the buffeting of strong tropical winds? Have you just made it through the most difficult ordeal of your life, and are shedding the dead leaves of your experiences to the ground below you? Will your hardship nourish and benefit the next generation? Or are you still somewhere in the middle of the storm, with your desiccated leaves hanging all about you, a semblance of protection until the storm passes. What shape are your scars?
I’m opposed to author bios, for much the same reason that I’m opposed to framing artwork. Intellectually we know that art goes beyond the frame, and that the frame is an artificial construct. My husband says that I “sure am a piece of work”, but he has never, (nor has anyone else) ever referred to me as a piece of art…
So, right now I am bouncing back and forth between the beautiful and troubled island paradise of Oahu, and our home base in deep rural Missouri. Subjects of interest for contemplation and writing include nature, sustainability, primitive skills and traditions, kindness, unconditional positive regard, all the big whys and hows, movement disorders, the juxtaposition of science and religion, education, second language acquisition, holistic skin care, and cats. I fail to practice much of what I preach, and greet each day as a challenge, and consider each night before I go to bed an exercise in self-grace.