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Visible roots

Why do trees conceal the splendor of their roots?

— Pablo Neruda

After my last post, I was drawn to revisit Neruda’s Book of Questions. I hadn’t looked at it in some time but remembered it as a series of pithy and soul-stirring questions, several of which I could sit with for a while. And seeing the above felt synchronistic, so I was moved to revisit the tree with the splendid roots again and to see if I could show how I feel when I’m with this tree by making a photograph, or, as often happens as well, if the photograph would reveal new layers of emotion.

In looking at the photograph and reading the question, I’m also moved to asked myself: what am I concealing? Roots are underground things, usually, but what can I bring forward? And will it be splendid? My roots are my stories, all the experiences that have shaped me – some I’m proud of, others not so much. But those roots that I’ve regarded as less than, as unworthy of bringing into the light – what can they teach me? Each story doesn’t have – or even need – a happy conclusion. Sometimes the wisdom is in the meaning we derive from hurtful moments, or days, or even weeks. And sometimes it’s simply surviving them and saying, I’m still here.

My childhood stories weren’t always happy – some of them were miserable – but there were moments of beauty, and there was love. There were close friendships, including one that I still treasure. And there was a sweet and funny girl, painfully shy at times and convinced she was dorky, but with her own style and occasionally, flashes of confidence. The roots of my life are splendid. My stories aren’t always pretty, but they are often beautiful.

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