Late last December in the midst of the approaching Christmas season, I glanced out the window one morning and noticed a strange occurrence. I had a clear view of several bare tree branches. On one of the branches I saw two lone leaves hanging on bravely through the cold and frost.
There was a mild wind blowing. I could tell this because of the way the leaves were moving but there was a great difference between how each member of the duo responded to the wind. One seemed to wave gently with each light wisp of wind, slowly fluttering with elegance and grace. The other, subject to the same precise amount of wind, was frantically turning and twisting in response to the elements. The vision of these two leaves performing in such diametrically opposed ways while subject to the same stimulus made me giggle.
Until I recognized myself in the metaphor.
The second leaf was a perfect match for the frenzy I had been experiencing in getting ready for Christmas, using every ounce of energy I could call up day after day to finish addressing mountains of Christmas cards, search for the best of the Black Friday deals, make final choices about Christmas gifts and order them online, all the while keeping a tight rein on the Christmas budget.
Hmmmm..,I thought. Nature was showing me to myself with color, creativity and...precision. I was the twirling leaf, spinning and swirling away...laboring to meet my well-defined expectations often at the cost of desperately needed rest and relaxation.
It was, indeed, a moment of realization, reminding me of the strong sense of fatigue I had pushed back out of my awareness on a daily basis in my very powerful and strong desire to celebrate the Christmas season as I had imagined it.
Whenever we enslave ourselves to our programmed expectations and fail to tap in to present moment awareness (in this case, the enormous fatigue growing each day), we are living in RESISTANCE to the natural response of the body and
in support of a pre-conception that ignores present moment perception.
Logically, it seems like an easy adjustment could remedy this kind of situation. Tired body? Exhausted? The solution? More rest, minimize expectations. Why does it, then, feel so difficult to break out of our well-worn patterns of behavior?
I think the answer lies in the way we define ourselves. Or, to be more precise, in the way we have "learned" to define ourselves. Holding on to the picture we have been trained to paint about ourselves throughout our lives seems so compelling. A portrait of competence and persistence... completion of the task. regardless of the cost. An illustration of our "storybook" selves. As if THIS is the way to satisfy ourselves. But that is because we have become consumed with an old, enculturated image of resignation and sacrifice that fails to include the importance and significance of self-care and the courage to make it our defining parameter.
In succumbing to this "sacrificial" portrait we fail to recognize that self-care is our grown-up Christmas gift to ourselves and also to the world which awakens when it is given a clear portrayal of exquisite self-love for it is when we truly love and care for ourselves that our hearts naturally overflow with caring and compassion for others.
Since that day of revelation I have thought many times about the two leaves on the lone branch of Christmas. I clearly see a portrait of myself in the twirling leaf but, as I contemplate the other leaf moving so elegantly in the light breeze, I call to mind several individuals whose lives beautifully illustrate their loving embrace of the "elements"...however they appear in their lives. And I am inspired by their beautiful example of soft and supple flowing with the"wind".
Perhaps the last and best gift of Christmas!
top image from pinterest