In the Pruning of a Tree
In Bonsai, the tree is not the only one who is refined.
I write now with a smear of blood on my hand.
I was struck by something earlier this morning.
It was not the scraping of the tree bark against my hand (which had drawn the blood) but the thoughts that followed that struck me.
I am a practitioner of the art of bonsai. That phrase, in fact, describes the art of bonsai quite well. Precise, fanciful, and plenty condescending.
In all truthfulness, I am merely a gardener and keeper of small trees.
I am an artist in Bonsai in the same way a man who plows a field is an artist. He does not need the appreciation of others to make his art worthwhile. That is merely a bonus. It is his diligence and careful attention to his job that fuels and fulfills him.
I was pulling weeds when I drew the blood from my hand. It was then that I thought, in Bonsai, not only do you refine the tree but the tree refines you. How comical.
I prune my trees to keep them healthy and beautiful. This is no doubt difficult for the trees. But it is also difficult for me. My body aches after a day of long hours in my garden. Occasionally, the sharp blade of a tool will find its way to my skin.
My muscles grow sore and are torn, but they heal back stronger. My mind grows tired, but the next day I put to use the knowledge I gained from the day before.
It was the willingness to cut my hands that struck me most. I hadn’t stopped to think, or to hesitate. In the care of my trees, I had momentarily ceased to care for myself.
My bloody hand will callous, and the next time I pull weeds I may find I have a better method.
I think, to find peace in life, you must find things to care about more than your pain. In this way, you can escape the suffering of life. Even better, you can trade it in for meaning.
My trees will grow and change, as will I alongside them. To give and to take, this is life.
Today, my back will ache and my hands will bleed. Strangely enough, I couldn’t be more thankful for it.