I found this little tree on the other side of my block last week when I went for a walk. It reminded me of Charlie Brown's Christmas tree, and that made me smile.
It's thin and scrawny and not weighed down by all those decorations, all that baggage we carry around with us to present a pretty picture of ourselves to the world. I like that. I like seeing the bare bones beneath the grand facade, the reality, the simple truth.
That is where the true beauty lies, in the face we show when no one one is looking, the scars and the wrinkles and the freckles and the honesty.
There's something to be said for standing out there in the cold, for all the world to see. Exposed to the elements, weathered, real.
Something to be said for not always trying to fix things up, hide the flaws, make things perfect.
I was born a perfectionist, and I've spent a lot of time in my life trying to fix things, trying to make them into what I wanted them to be, trying to achieve the vision I had of what my life should look like.
I wasted a lot of time wishing for what I did not have, rather than enjoying the truth of what was there, right before me. The beautiful truth. The cracked open, weather worn, this-is-the-life-you-have-right-now truth.
Instead of fixing what was broken, I was breaking what wasn't. I couldn't see the forest through the trees. I kept looking at the shiny bits. I was drawn to them, but they always managed to elude me. Those baubles and bows did not belong to me.
Slowly, I learned to look past them, below the surface, to admire character and grace and simplicity. I learned to breathe in the life I have and hold it, cherish it, savor it, even when it may not be all that pretty.
These days, I feel a little more like this tiny tree out there in the open, beneath that big blue sky.
There is room for growth, and I find that I am able to pull myself up to full height and smile, even as the wind rages around me.
Because I know now that I can take it.
I have finally put down strong roots.