Lessons From the Lightning Tree

Trees have a way of teaching, by virtue of their existence.

They adapt to life’s storms with stalwart resilience.

They stand… until they can’t.

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A recent TV commercial defined smooth as the “new young”  (which was followed by a momentary twinge… and a hearty laugh.)

Not knocking it… not scoffing, either.  It all depends on the source of your definitions.

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been smooth since I was a baby.  (Even with a liberal dose of spackling compound, I’d be hard-pressed…)

A visit to the Lightning Tree confirmed my reality.

As I admired its gnarled presence, my “old” friend reminded me that aging is an inevitable process.

The truth is: aging can’t be reversed.  It happens whether you acknowledge it or not.  It occurs in spite of attempts to delay it.

(Note:  The disclaimer at the end of the ad stated that the product reduces the appearance of aging.)  Nothing to get hysterical about.

Simply the truth.

There’s nothing wrong with a few crunches or throwing a little paint on the ol’ barn.  I’m a firm believer in taking care of what you’ve got.

But, I also know life’s lightning bolts eventually take their toll… and, sometimes they leave a mess.

(I’m learning to live with the mess.)

The idea of being weathered has grown on me.

It’s comforting.

Appealing…

When I got back to the house, I consulted another “old friend” for the definition of young.  (One who went to college with me almost forty years ago… my favorite dictionary.)  It said:

“Recently come into being.”

Which can happen at any age.

Hallelujah.

Granted, I’ll take care of what I’ve got, but I refuse to fret about it.

Thank you, my wise, beautiful, young/”old” friend.

I’m resolved to stand… until I can’t.

Enjoying stalwart resilience,

~ Kim

What lessons have you learned about aging?

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30 thoughts on “Lessons From the Lightning Tree

    • Uru, I’d forgotten about our time difference (literally and figuratively!) but I’m glad you were the first to respond. You display a wisdom beyond your years for one so “young” and I’m honored that this post touched you.

      There’s great truth in the adage: “You’re as young as you feel.” Frankly, we could be college roommates — we’d laugh a LOT — between chocolate chip cookies! :) Aging is only part of the journey — appreciating it is the rest. Thanks for your heartfelt comments. xo!

  1. With aging, I think the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. I’ve got memories to go with the wrinkles on my knees and all of those experiences give me a lot of interesting things to write about. I love your lightening tree!

  2. My youngest child (of 3) just graduated from high school. I feel better now than I did when I was 25. With age comes wisdom and with wisdom, peace. Nice post. I like that definition of youth “recently come into being”….possible at any age!

  3. Gosh, u’ve just reminded me of my ageing signs! But then again, I realized that as I’ve aged, I become a better person & that’s most impt. I hope I’ll age gracefully like my mom…..

    Kimby, will u be doing an “Asian Tour” anytime? Will be most happy to meet u in person.

    • Shirley, you’re a champion for caring for taking yourself and it shows. I have no doubt you’ll take after your Mom! Loved your thoughts on aging gracefully and becoming a better person. xo!

  4. Lovely, lovely thoughts Kim. I also like your definition of youth–and I’m grateful that we have a God who renews our youth even as we age and gain experience.

  5. I love this post, Kim. From someone who works with so many women who struggle with body image and the whole the concept of aging. Anti-aging? I don’t think so. This post was refreshing. “Take good care of what you’ve got,” yes, AND let’s not fret. The fretting will produce far more wrinkles than the aging process itself. What’s for lunch?

    • Sue Ann, I can’t imagine what a relief it must be for those you work with to discover (with your positive guidance) the beautiful, whole women they truly are. Nourishment on the inside shows on the outside! Speaking of which… lunch was a fresh tomato sammich. :)

  6. Oh my, this is so beautiful. I love how you’ve woven the tree into the aging process. Remarkable! My 4-year old daughter loves, loves, loves trees. She naturally just runs over to them and hugs and kisses them. She also loves the book, The Giving Tree. Trees, they hold so much wisdom, don’t they.

  7. What a nicely written post. ( And I like your approach to little snippets). Well, I think age bashes up against us most when big numbers appear on the horizon. Well, that is how it is with me. I can’t say I have wholeheartedly embraced getting older yet ! Somehow it feels that just when we have got to the stage in life where we feel “comfortable in our skin” as the French say, that the selfsame skin starts crumbling and doing all kinds of stuff we’d rather it didn’t !

    • Rhiannon, isn’t that the truth?! No matter how pragmatic I am about the process, every day is a new and wonderful “surprise.” :) But, humor helps and so does a healthy dose of, “Oh well!” (I believe the French are also advocates of beauty radiating from the inside?) Thanks for stopping by the lake to comment!

  8. Oh, Kimby, what a thought provoking post…I look in the mirror each day and see the beautiful signs of aging, which I must admit, I fight tooth and nail…I go to yoga, there are big mirrors, I observe in myself out the corner of my eye and see the inevitable effects of gravity on my arms…I think to myself, in 10 years, I’ll look back and think my arms looked damn good then…w/that thought, I’m happy and realize, wherever I am, I must appreciate the beauty….xox Ally PS…I try to avoid looking at my neck…lol!!

    • Ally, first, refer to my reply to starrybluesky (above); nothing combats the effects of aging better than a sense of humor. :) But, you brought up a terrific point… look ahead, not back! (Although… those full length mirrors are frightfully adept at pointing out the “present” state of “things”…!)

      I think part of the trouble with transitioning is due to the lack of honest (aka “real”) examples of what “our age” is supposed to look like. The cultural emphasis is on young, the media fixates on “fixing it,” and the elderly are neglected altogether. Maybe we need to step up to the plate as “examples?” Made me think of the movie “Calendar Girls.” :)

  9. Great post! I am chicken and cheap so you’ll not see me getting any updates to my body, but I will try to be healthier (I’m more interested in preventing back/teeth troubles than keeping wrinkles at bay). Being real is where it’s at! Life’s too short to waste time trying not to age or not accepting that every day we live, we’re are dying. I try to catch myself when I start criticizing myself or others about aging (etc) because THAT certainly doesn’t help anyone. I also believe that you get what you give and beauty is not about looking young. I think you have to be old to understand that though, right? ;.)

    • Nolita, you “gave” a stellar comment and I hope you get as much back! Especially poignant were your thoughts on catching criticism before it starts. There seems to be an undercurrent of “comparison” running rampant, instead of appreciating each and every person for the gift they are. (Maybe because it pushes products…?!) I hope I have as much compassion for other folks as I expect them to have for me! Thanks for your parting shot, too… tee hee. :)

  10. Aging is a natural thing and we should not be sad about it. It gives us the pleasure to see our kids growing up and having kids themselves. It makes us wiser, experienced in life and patient. Take life as it comes and enjoy it. Forget that you are growing old. Excellent post, loved it!
    http://cosmopolitancurrymania.blogspot.hk/

  11. I adore a wrinkled weathered face, crows feet framing bright eyes, and lips thinned but still smiling. That is as long as they are on somebody else’s face. I look in the mirror more and more and see my mother and grandmother staring back at me. I don’t like it. Your post reminded me of the beauty in the weathered and worn. Loved this. Thank you.

    • Denise, I just spent the afternoon with an 81 year “young” friend. (Somehow I never notice that she’s older than me!) I’m smiling about your reflection in the mirror looking awfully “familiar” — I hear ya… :)

  12. Tis Art! Tis Art! My Old Friend! What you create, is art from the deep deep heart! I LOVE this piece. I LOVE that you frame it so magnificently with this old weathered lightning struck friend of yours! One of your tree clan! I’ve become quite fond of them. I found myself wanting to crawl in to explore its hidden secrets… just as I LOVE to do with my many old young friends… whom I LOVE!

    My mom stood until she no longer could… and that was the end. Carried her to 97. She was still painting basement floors and harvesting her large gardens at 94. She was weathered. At half mast for at least 15 years after a car accident that severed muscles in her back which never returned fully. She laughed when others gave her sympathy… “I do most of my work down there! Doesn’t bother me a bit.”

    Here’s to you and I, Kimby… and our magnificent weathering!
    I absolutely love and adore you and your Art in the world… writing and photography. Thank you! xo

    • Kathleen, I’m honored by your heartfelt response and I LOVE your Mom’s story! Attitude is everything, is it not? Thank you for embracing my trees… and me. xo!

  13. Dear Kimby,

    What a beautiful and insightful post. I love your thoughts and perspective about aging and the notion about appreciating and taking care of what we have.

    The lightning tree is beautiful and I like to think that experiences and being a bit more “worldly” as we age is a nice journey in itself.

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