The Aspen Have Been Working me Over
The Aspen have been working me over this morning; I noticed them when I woke at about 2:30 AM. I followed a common pattern of getting up and sitting for an hour or so, breathing and attending to my heart-breath, inviting my dreams to return to consciousness, noticing my monkey mind playing with me, … and the Aspen kept returning to presence.
I remembered, as if physically in their presence, the deep silence that can be felt when one is among them, and the delightful play of their quaking leaves in a gentle breeze, the white of their bark rubbed onto my own cheeks in play and affinity, the air smelling forest fresh and their branches reaching skyward and their roots interlacing the forest floor. The aspens are turning their yellow and red fall colors now, dropping leaves even from their branches with the deepening of fall, the shortening of days and cooling of temperatures. Yes, the Aspen play and work on me now, even from the distance of my sitting on the couch at home. It is after all, I suppose, the same stars circling overhead here as are splayed over Forest.
This early AM however, I felt myself sinking into the Aspen Grove, felt myself to be one of the ramets (trees) standing tall, surrounded by my family, the presence of fire in the forest still testified to by our presence. I remembered too the itch awakened at nodules in my rooting as the fire passed over the landscape, the itch that gave rise to tender shoots reaching for life, for a life of their own, a life of our own, a life wanting to happen.
Perhaps that itch, of Life Wanting to Happen, my life — in particular, is what brought my attention to the to the distinction between the Aspen ramet and the larger organism rooting through the forest floor. I had the distinct feel or sense, that what the ‘organism’ asked of me was to be ‘myself,’ to the fullness and wholeness of my best ability, the way the body asks that of the heart or liver or lungs… that the health of the whole rested in the health of its holons, the nested wholes within the wholes.
The modern human dilemma arises out of our living in a culture that is essentially, fundamentally, anti-life. I remembered hearing Doug Bancroft, Director, Canadian Ice Service, on BBC last night reporting that the decline of ice this year was far more dramatic than anything predicted by our climatic modeling for the next ten years (Tension Over Arctic Passage). This is a hard time for awakening into, and an exciting and challenging time, a time of opportunity and of crisis.
Sitting with the Aspen this AM, here on the soft comfort of my couch, I felt the following statements arise within me, and each finding completion:
- The Health of the Whole requires… the negotiated self-interest of each holon (part), as if its life depends upon the health of the whole.
- The Health of the Whole requires that I… be loyal to my own deepest callings, passions, loves, voice, health….
- My Health, Wholeness, and Hardiness require that I… listen for what brings me most alive. This is to listen below the level of the cultural noise to see/hear/know the appropriate response of an organism living in a world of firestorms, of cascading social and ecological and cultural collapse. It requires that I feel the itch at the nodule of the rootlet that has been waiting for just such a moment, for just such an invitation from the world soul, to be full and wholly me.
This is how the aspen come to be the first tree to show their presence above ground after a fire, here in the mountain west. They rest their life force safely in their roots, quietly awaiting the itch of a life wanting to happen.
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you into something else is the greatest accomplishment. — Ralph Waldo Emerson