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.
Hackberries on the sidewalk.
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
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
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
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.