Last week I took some time off. Completely offline, mobile phone off, immersed myself into nature. Hiking with a map – yes, a real paper one – and attentive perception of the impressions around me. Amazing how many waypoints and features nature has in store to find some orientation.
A beautiful and intensive experience.
On one of my tours I was particularly impressed by a stately, very tall, old tree. I think it was a beech. It had a trunk that was so high that I had to put my head far down into the neck to see its crown of leaves, which was swaying in the sun above most of the trees around it.
But what impressed me even more than the size of this tree was its bark. It was dark and firm, with furrows, elevations and niches. The traces of the years and the weather had left an uneven and yet harmonious structure on it. I let my fingers slide over it and discovered that spiders and other insects had made their home in the furrows and niches.
This made me smile and think about how the traces left by life can have their uses.
Aren’t the scars and wrinkles that we get over time a sign that we have been exposed to life?
And isn’t every scar also connected to an experience from which we were able to learn and which we can pass on to others – a scar that makes us a little bit wiser, despite the pain we might have felt when we got it?
Of course nobody wants to consciously scar themselves or have experiences that cause pain, grey hair and worry lines.
But if we dare to expose ourselves to life, to the storm and fire as well as the sunshine, consequences will show up. But whether they make us older or more alive is up to us.
If we manage to look conciliatory and with a smile at the traces that our experiences have left behind, if we see them as a sign of what we have achieved and mastered and if we begin to be grateful for what they have taught us, then they suddenly become beautiful, the “traces of life” (on us and on others!). Because
“Everything you look at with love is beautiful.”
And often we are much better able to make peace with the events that have scarred us, to accept them as part of us without grieving about them for long or to revive them as justification for further events that are causing pain.
Let’s look with love and respect at the furrows and niches in our physical and mental bark and use the wealth of experience they have given us for ourselves and others.
“The meaning of life lies not in our expectations of it, but in the tasks it sends us”.
To a meaningful week full of life!