To preface today’s story, I need to remind you that back in August I turned 50. For months leading up to my birthday I felt a growing sense of urgency, and dread, yet the days continued, coming straight for me in a steady beat, closer and closer. It was becoming an anxiety, this number 50, and every day that passed the unease grew. I began to feel the drum growing louder and louder as days passed with the reminder reverberating in my brain….I am going to be fifty, repeat….you ARE fifty.
What is my story. What have I accomplished, conquered,
and what fears have I yet to face, on on went these thoughts and worries.
Then one day, I made a decision. I am going to do something unexpected, challenging and that has always fascinated me. Something I never really considered as an option for various reasons and fears. Once the decision was made (the easy part), my instincts took over. I began searching, creating, planning and hinting that I was going to do this thing. I don’t think anyone really took me serious, except maybe a few who really know me, and I believe they even had their doubts. But, this was all part of the process. I had other self imposed obstacles to face as well. I am terrified of the dentist, mostly because of the smells, but the sounds are disconcerting at best and horrible at worst! (do you know that a tattoo sounds a little like dentist sounds? it does!). I had to work to conquer those issues first, then the second most difficult part was to settle on a final design. In case you have not figured it out yet, I got a tattoo.
I love the colorful imagery in tattoo art work these days and am fascinated by the all-white ink tattoos. But, in the end, I settled on a simple line drawing, I asked to use an espresso colored ink. I felt this simple yet curving design best represented my story. Any of you who follow #myviewfrom1502 know that I have this grand love affair with trees, and often use them as the main subject in my work.
The words of an artist and poet, Herman Hesse that express what I try to put on canvas:
“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.”
Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.
A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.
A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.
When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. . . . Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.
A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.
So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.
If anyone knows where I can find a translated version of this book please let me know!
Bäume: Betrachtungen und Gedichte [Trees: Reflections and Poems] (public library), originally published in 1984,
#tattoo, #tattooink, #treetattoo, #art, #valeriedowdyart, #myviewfrom1502, #hermanhesse, #trees, #peace, #home