Have you ever seen a Chinese painting of a plum tree? I used to brush paint plum branches when I was learning how to apply ink to paper with a brush and come out with something beautiful.
The Chinese plum tree doesn’t grow in nice, smooth, flowing lines. The branches are full of sharp angles and unexpected twists and turns where, for some reason, the tree has changed its mind and decided to grow in a new direction. At each junction there is a knob, a swollen spot, which looks as if the tree was trying to heal a break, a botanical broken heart. One might think that the tree would be made ugly by these knots, but, instead, it is beautiful in its angularity and has inspired painters for centuries.
Similarly, our “I”, our sense of who we are in the world, has many angles and knots, where it has encountered human heartbreaks and grown in a new direction, often leaving a scar to mark the spot where the break occurred. We might have feelings of shame, regret, anger, betrayal or fear around these scars and feel that our “I” is forever marred because of them.
But I encourage you to look at the plum tree. It is beautiful because of its scars, not in spite of them.
How can we heal our broken “I” to form a beautiful, harmonious “I” with all of the sharp angles integrated into a beautiful pattern of growth that makes us proud and happy, not angry or ashamed?
In the next issue I will have some suggestions for you. In the meantime, if you want to get started, I recommend Micheline Nader’s recently published The Dolphin’s Dance We are all dolphins at heart, but most of us have to learn to do the dolphin dance. Mrs. Nader has provided an easy-to-follow five-step dance lesson. Enjoy!