Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What is the pattern here?

So much of what we see is colored by who we are and what tapes are currently playing on our mind radios. I took this picture a few days ago, on my morning walk. I struggled with it at the time I took it, and I struggle with it still.

I love the colors, and loved the perfect radiance of the leaves, the way they flare out from the center, the way the light seems to create concentric circles on the upper leaf, the bold flare of those outstretched fingers...

But what I find it hard to love is the brokenness of the fronds that thrust up from the center -- and I think that's very telling; painfully indicative of my own perspectives at the moment.

Back last summer I spent some time reading Byron Brown's book, Soul Without Shame, and now I'm reading it again, more slowly, for my spirituality class. And this week's assignment has been to notice the judgments we make of ourselves.

... which means I can't help noticing the broken imperfect parts of me, the parts deep at the center that don't have the grace and flow of the rest of my more acceptable bits.  So when I look at this image, that center bit -- the pushiness of it, the torn and tattered edges of it, the lack of symmetry -- becomes a symbol of all that I judge in myself (and find wanting).

So here's the question:  what exactly IS that piece, and how did it come to look that way?  Is it something that was randomly chopped off because it stuck out?  Or is it something trying to be born, a new leaf (and if so, why are its edges already brown?)  I keep thinking that if I could understand the growth pattern of this plant, figure out what role that center thrust plays, I might better understand my own broken and imperfect bits.

Because right now they're sitting front and center, and making it difficult to appreciate the whole picture...

5 comments:

Maureen said...

What I find interesting is how showy those other parts are and how those center fronds, perhaps because they're at the center, still manage to get our attention. I see this as commentary on surface and interior, what we reveal and what we want to hide but don't always succeed in doing--and for the better. The broken parts are parts of us nonetheless and in accepting them, in being unafraid of allowing them to show, we accept ourselves and so are whole.

I lose interest in someone who will only allow the showy or surface parts to be visible, because that's a person I can't get close to. To be human is to be faulty, to have imperfections. And that's ok.

Joyceann Wycoff said...

Fascinating image ... thanks for taking it and asking questions that make me stop and think.

drw@bainbridge.net said...

Oh, Maureen; you're so right. At some level I know that, but some part of me foolishly continues to believe it applies to others, not to me!

Thanks for the reminder --

altar ego said...

First I want to say that I love the new blog look. Really love it.

I've been aware lately of what I refer to as my "aesthete gene." I gravitate toward beauty like the tides to the moon. Blemishes send me scurrying. But then there are times, like your question about these fronds when brokenness interrupts beauty, that I get caught up in the metaphor I am able to draw from what I am seeing. It becomes about texture, and how dispirit things weave and coexist together. When my heart cocks itself just right, THAT becomes beauty. I then find myself sighing with relief that I fit into a broken world just as I am.

drw@bainbridge.net said...

Thanks -- and I know just what you mean about gravitating to beauty; it's like being thirsty...

and, YES! we do fit in, just as we are, and isn't that amazing and wonderful? Perfect description: my heart's been off kilter all week and then suddenly it "cocks itself just right."

awesome!