Friday, March 18, 2005

The Bonsai Lives Among the Small Wildflowers

If you had asked me a couple of years back what my favorite tree was, I would have answered a bonsai. I thought the twisted and dwarfed trees were like my soul. If you ask me today, I will tell you a big beech tree that is next to the barn on the farm my wife and I bought when we moved to the hills of eastern Kentucky. Why the change? Because I am rewriting my story.

Robert Penn Warren, a Pulitzer Prize winner in both fiction and poetry and a Kentucky native, wrote in one of his novels the following, “all men are looking for their story”. He is right. We all want to know who we are. I have decided that the person who gets to define me is I.

If by meeting me or by reading these blogs or even by living with me as my wife does, you decide you know some facts about me and make a story about me from them that is your right. It is also my right to decide if I agree with your story. I am the ultimate author of the story of my soul.

A few years ago a therapy based on the idea of rewriting your own story was getting lots of press. I never went to a therapist trained in the technique, but I believe in the concept that only the individual has the rights to their story.

What if my grandpa got to decide who I was? He had decided when I was a kid that I was his sex toy. Should the fact that I was sexually abused as a boy be the entire story? What if my diagnosis was the only part of the story ever told? I would be bipolar only.

Only by my writing the story can all of it come out. It will be my reality that defines me. I may listen to others, but I will decide who I am. It will be good when my story is the food for my soul. When I can take the knowledge I gained as a bonsai and bring forth a seedling which might grow into a tall tree and grow old in the community of the forest.

You need a safe place to rewrite the story of your soul. It takes courage to wade into the dark waters, but a swim in your soul is the only thing that can heal your heart.

The thing we do not seem to know is that in your soul along with the bonsai trees are small wildflowers. They are from the seeds planted each time someone smiled at you or gave you a hug. They are all there waiting for you to look upon them.

When you look at the bonsai don’t be sad, but rather celebrate the strength seen in that little tree. Thank the bonsai for bearing your pain but never giving in to it. The bonsai lives among the small wildflowers.

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