A few days ago, I met a friend for a long overdue visit. I have been in awe of this woman since the day we met almost nine years ago. I adore her. We gave each other the Cole’s notes version of what has happened in our lives since our last get together, and I think every single time she tells me what she’s been up to, she continues to amaze me. She inspires me to be a better person simply by being who she is. She is the woman I most admire, hands down. It isn’t because she has won the Nobel prize, or has a triple PhD. It’s because she is completely and entirely comfortable in her own skin. She is confident, composed, calm. Not only that, she inspires the same in others without having any expectations other than to just be the best version of yourself that you can be, because that is what she is also trying to do.
As we sat and talked, the topic of trees came up. Without the context, it may seem irrelevant to speak of trees, so just trust me that it had great weight in the conversation. Two days prior, we had a storm that downed many trees in the area. One happened to be in my neighbor’s front yard that fell into my house. It caused some relatively minor damage and certainly an ounce of inconvenience since I could not access my front entrance very well, and had to walk around my garage to make it to my house, but nothing unmanageable. That night, after coming home from my regular Wednesday night meeting and coffee with fellow photographers, the sun was still out and the weather shifted to become a rather welcoming late evening. I decided to take the dog for a walk and assess the damage to the neighborhood. Walking down residential streets and the trails, the sounds of chainsaws echoed throughout the community as neighbors cleaned the fallen trees and branches in their yards.
After our walk, I came up to the tree laying heavily on my front steps and took a good close look at her. She was beautiful. Even though the blooms had not been ready to open, I examined the clusters of buds on the tree top; the ones too high to be able to see when she was standing tall. But here, she was at eye level in all her beauty. I grabbed my camera because I felt compelled to capture this glimpse of her life before it was taken away forever. At this point, the sun was starting to set above the rooftops. I realized how beautiful the sunset was in behind the tree, and in several shots I was able to capture that as well.
What struck me most is how much beauty there was in the destruction that occurred mere hours before. How this perfectly imperfect tree could still be so beautiful laying on her side, how the day could turn itself around from the hundred kilometer an hour winds and driving rains to the gorgeous burnt orange sunset I could see amongst her branches.
There is beauty despite the damage.
It seems somewhat like a metaphor that can be used in so many ways. Many of us are like that tree or like that storm. Perfectly imperfect, damaged but still with immeasurable beauty. Perhaps it is in how you view your environment. Some would surely say the tree was a nuisance, but I am glad that I took the time to thank Mother Nature for the gift she gave me, even if it was fleeting.
The tree is gone now, but I have some memories of her and some beautiful photographs with a story that needed telling. I am grateful for my friend who saw the value of my story for many may not have understood what I was feeling. I thank the Universe for her timely fashion in bringing us together when she did. Long overdue, yet perfectly on time.