By: Dr. Michael Lewis, MD
A friend of mine once said in a time of pain that he felt much like a willow branch blowing in a storm – not quite sure if he was going to break.
Do we ever really break? A willow branch is quite pliable. It can be manipulated into many different shapes, bent end-to-end in some cases and withstand significant internal and environmental stresses. However, like most things, it has a breaking point if stressed too far.
So I’m thinking am I like the willow too? Do I have a breaking point? What does a breaking point look like?
I’ve been bent, twisted, in some cases debarked but not quite sure I know what it’s like to have my core fractured. Maybe it doesn’t.
What is core? I think it is the only constant that we are born with. The one thing that remains stable throughout life. It’s easy to misinterpret my core for my outward gestures and internal reflections, but those things I believe, have been manifested by experiences and past. In other words, stuff built upon stuff with the foundation being my core. My core is stable. It’s just been hidden beneath the rubble of ego, past experiences and thoughts. My core, like the roots of a tree are embedded in fertile soil with the hope to give rise to the flowering of consciousness (see Eckhart Tolle).
Humans are like trees, no? We respire- move oxygen and carbon dioxide in between cells. We have strong roots which keep us grounded and connected to our source. If we change locations, we have to take our source with us or we lose our self or source of life. We blossom and sprout new life while encouraging our own. We thrive on hydration and fertile ground. We shift and bend and rarely lose a piece. We are drawn to the sun and awaken when she is awake.
Am I so different?
A pussy willow has soft, gentle flowers and looks fragile. It is able to survive harsh surroundings and thrives when grounded. The other trees don’t judge him or call him names.
It’s not a pussy
A weeping willow looks sad but that’s not the core of the tree. The tree is still strong despite its weeping appearance. In affect, it’s branches are embracing anyone or anything that’s sits beneath its beautiful branches. It creates a sacred container – Just by being what it is- not by trying.
Maybe it’s weeping from joy.
The Native American Inipi sweat lodges are created by the bent forms of the willow. It gives a home, a sacred place of healing. Even when unrooted it has a rippling effect (see Irvin Yalom) in its death by providing a container for spirit and awakening. In its death, it lent us a gift for future generations – this time for humans.
Am I really so different?