Mesmerized by the rhythmic swell and subsiding of the sea as the sun popped over the eastern horizon, I became entranced by an enormous stump. Measuring not less than 2 ½ feet across and at least a foot tall, its dense body bobbed effortlessly atop the green waves. As the waves crested, it turned its many-ringed face to me, almost as if to say, “When you’re as old as I, see how easy it becomes to take life a little more lightly, to surrender, to relax into the flow.” I shifted foot to foot over many long minutes, curious whether the energy of a boisterous wave might dash the bulky form upon the sandy shore. Did I want it to, I wondered inwardly? And why? Why upset this perfectly secure marriage of heft and lightness, of fluidity and structure, of density and lightness? As if in response, the solid chocolate brown cylinder bobbed contentedly, untroubled by the lifting and dropping of the green sea.
I turned homeward, my eyes trailing the rocky jetty for sight of shiny cormorants or happy coots, their levity somehow more apparent to me. I regarded the length of the gray line of massive boulders placed to demarcate sandy beach and watery throughway. There, singularly perched like a trophy atop the hodge-podge of rocks, a tremendous stump of driftwood lay on its side. Exponentially grander in size than its water borne drifter, its smooth surface shone like white gold in places, the sea like a metal worker polishing it to a rich patina. Its growth rings smiled back of me. Curled within the, untold stories of a long and storied existence. I imagined the mature redwood standing in a magnificent ring of sister trees, their collective presence a cathedral, its circumference singly and the ring collectively marking sacred ground.
Whether felled by age, fire, or human hand, it had wandered a long, mysterious, aqueous route to this resting place. Its epidermis bore burls and knots now softened by age. I climbed atop the jetty to run my fingers along its smooth sun-kissed skin and discovered a cozy cradle of a seat carved out of the heaven-facing surface. My bum fit perfectly in a soft indentation where the trunk dissolved into the base of the tree and then into a glorious complexity of spirals and flourishes and curlicues where a tangle of roots had once been. Ah, Mother Nature – always the consummate artist!
I rested my back against the length of the stump, the wood smooth against my body, softened by weather and time. Why can I not allow myself to be so softened and made more exquisitely beautiful by the seemingly harsh weather in my own life – prolonged unemployment, personal griefs and disappointments, disconnection from loved ones, a prevailing feeling of uncertainty about my future? I felt the driftwood stump embracing me. Abandon fear. Eschew certainty. Unfetter your mind. Open your eyes. Expand your heart, Mother Nature’s masterpiece of woodworking counseled.
Indeed, that mass of wind- and water-kissed wood had only to rest in the fullness of its expression: all solidity, yet lightness of being. Had it not been pitched across watery surfaces for many moons to gain its white gold finish, its lighter than water state? Buffeted by storms, scorched by sun, shined by moon, hallowed by wind. Now here, speaking to me:
Anything worth doing – even learning to just be – takes time. And everything ripens and blooms in Nature’s own time.