therapy

Beauty, Snow, and Trash

The first snowfall

in Brooklyn.

Blanketing the parked cars,

the few blades of grass,

and the trash,

I watched as

the snow whispered

to the ugly city streets:

“You, too, can be beautiful.”

Today, as the snow fell outside,

I watched a repairman

take his bad day out on those he was meant to service,

and I thought,

What would it take for this to be beautiful?

How does one level the playing field

of the human species,

as the undercurrents of animosity grow?

Why is this not beautiful?

What kind of pain grew in this man’s heart,

shaping the new way he breathed,

seeing everyone but himself as the enemy?

How, how do I make this better,

how do I lift the cloak of ugly and reveal beauty?

Because there is no question that it is there.

Because it’s always there.

My one-year-old nephew saw beauty

in the wet snowfall as it landed

on my arms

and his eyelashes,

as he giggled

at the novelty of it.

As he laughed,

I found beauty too,

in the heavy, wet, slush

that surrounded me,

remembering my first snowfalls,

before I realized the snow was something

that could ruin someone’s day

or cause an accident

or delay travel plans.

I was born the day before a snowstorm

that left thousands without power.

Today,

I felt the first scratch of a story fall into line in my mind,

about a man that was a repairman,

and what it means to find beauty

in bitter words and angry days,

and about how much more everything is then it seems.

Maybe one day I’ll write it.

I’m not sure it’s time just yet.

Because he was just a repairman,

and I’m

not

a therapist

just yet.

But when I am,

and I’m tasked with finding beauty

in pain, and ugly, and muddy tracks,

perhaps I’ll look at the snow

to remember

that beauty can be found

even on the city streets

that are

filled with old

thanksgiving

trash.

 

28/52.

 

 

A Shoulder To Lean On

A few months ago, I wrote this article, inspired by a tree (see the linked article for an image of the tree) my father saw on a family friend’s extensive, gorgeous property. His house is edged up on a lake, surrounded by acres and acres and acres of trees, wooden cabins, wildlife, natural creeks, and old beaten paths. Nature at its best. But one tree stands out. A short hike from our friend’s house stands a tree, that our friend introduced my father to months ago. He photographed it to send to me, as inspiration for my writing. The trees long trunk is lying on the ground, as dead trees often do, but it’s trunk then takes a wild turn upwards, growing towards the sky. I took one lesson then, about anti-Semitism, and the ability to get back up when everyone else believes you’re at death’s door.
Today, home for the week of Passover, I went with my brothers and father to see the tree for myself. As I laid my eyes on it, as we stood around it and took in its grandeur, I learned another lesson from this tree.
You see, this tree is huge and old, and strong. It beat the odds, it is impressive and beautiful, and even still has buds on its highest branches. But as it soars to the sky, it leans against another tree right next to it, inching past it in height, but clearly reliant on the other trees strength for survival.
I’m studying psychology and counseling at the moment, with a goal to one-day practice as a therapist, g-d willing. Each day, I learn more about the intricacies of the human brain, the fragility of it, and the impossible tenacity of the human spirit. We, as humans, can endure incredible pain, and still come through. It’s true.
As we climb through a crisis, beaten and bruised, we come through stronger, somehow. We fold back into our lives with more wisdom, more depth, more beauty. It’s easy to credit ourselves, and it’s easy to believe we can do it, all on our own.
Because we can.
But do we have to?
When I study psychology, about the various disorders, about the ups and downs of the human experience, I ache with the desire to have all the knowledge already. I just want to know how to help, how to have the answers, how to be there for people and be able to guide them through their life.
Today, as I looked at the tree, I realized that I am training to be that tree. That supporting tree, the tree that is simply there to help another tree stand. I realized that I, myself, have quite a few trees just like that, supporting me.
And I realized that it doesn’t make the tree less impressive, needing to lean on its friend, it only makes the scene that much more moving, that much more impressive, to see one tree standing strong, helping another tree soar.
How often, as humans, do we just want to be able to take care of ourselves? How often do we resist leaning on others for support, at the risk that we will look weak, or tired, or incapable?
As a future therapist, I hope that I can be the strongest supporting tree possible. That every client that walks through my doors can lean on me, and soar.
And I can learn to look at my support around me, and recognize them for what they are. We all need each other, and we all can be the support that someone else needs to climb a little higher.
That tree would die without its friend. As impressive as it is, it needs support to thrive.
Humans aren’t all that different.
So if you have a working shoulder, stretch it out for someone to lean on.
And if you’re a little tired, and your shoulders are drooping, I’ve got a shoulder that I’m willing to share, and I think you’d be surprised to discover how many shoulders are surrounding you, waiting and ready to share the load.
So far, this tree, this incredible, beautiful, stoic tree has taught me a lot. In the words of our friend, who stood there with us: “You can learn a whole lot from trees.”
It’s true. Oh, is it true.

7/52

(P.S: Due to the busy week prior to Passover, and the start of Passover, I did miss a week of writing! The good news is, I got to spend the time with my family, who are all home for the holiday, and they’re some of the strongest shoulders I’ve got.)

Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash