My life symbol was not an instant discovery. How could I find something, a living creature or an inanimate object, that might represent me, in this project and in life in general? And was it possible to find a symbol that could encompass aspects of my past, present and future?
But the mystery, having soared aloft for some time in my head, came to rest on a branch of my conscience (as started Garagnon in his brilliant book, ‘Jade and the Blessed Mysteries of Life’!). Maybe not that original but the one thing that I reckon sums me up pretty well is…the very simple…tree!
I thought first about the qualities of a tree – strong, yet adaptable, able to thrive in different conditions and weather the storm to re-emerge fresher and greener than before. Okay, so maybe the tree is more an aspirational symbol for me than anything else! But what worthier qualities to strive for?
Trees love the sun (tick!), and will do anything in their power to get close to it and absorb as many precious rays as they can get. But trees also love the earth (tick!) and are firmly grounded, despite having their head in the clouds (tick!). I love the smell of the earth and of the outdoors, wading through mud and the distinctive earthy aroma of peaty whisky (a slight diversion but worth a mention!). Trees get to observe, and participate in, the changing seasons, adapting their survival techniques to operate in perfect harmony with each one.
Trees have the ability to grow and shoot out in random new directions (a bit like this project!) and are rewarded with the fruit of their efforts. As our own inspiration Gretchen Rubin pointed out, and as trees seem to know already, it is the journey of growth that is important.
Trees love to be involved in the magic of Christmas (tick!). They are made of wood, a material that, having visited a few French alpine chalets, somehow gets me excited about architecture, a subject I know nothing about. I would love to live in a Swedish Huf Haus, with its natural and wooden simplicity, huge windows, sloping roofs and an upstairs living area to optimise the amount of light and sunshine getting in.
Trees also feature regularly in Enid Blyton books, a childhood passion that I’m intrigued to explore a bit more, in particular, the Faraway Tree series in which children visit a secret world at the top of fairy folk inhabited, ancient tree, bearing ‘fruit of all kinds from acorns to lemons’. Taking the leap from linguistics to Enid Blyton has been one of my most rewarding experiences of 2013 so far. Whilst trying to locate copies of the Faraway Tree series, I have been enjoying a find from an antique shop in Shaftsbury, a 1971 copy of Enid Blyton’s ‘Happy Adventure Tales’.
I never thought I’d be considering the relevance and mystery of the humble, yet magnificent tree in relation to my past, present and future but then this project seems to hide surprises around every corner!