Updated: Aug 17
Yesterday I took a walk along my favourite local woodland path. It was muddier underfoot than earlier in the year, but not impassable.
One thing that struck me, walking through the woods, full of fruits, blossoms, leaves, birds and nuts, brimming with a riotous lively energy only a few months ago, was how the difference of the season lends an unexpected softness and vulnerability to the scene. Before now, I've thought of nature's winter aspect as being harsh, stark, asleep, but as I took my walk, breathing in the life around me, exchanging energy with the trees, I realised how wrong I had been - nature is even more poignantly and viscerally beautiful in her winter aspect!
The birds were quieter and more introspective - their energy, whilst less overflowingly abundant, was more contained and focused, and had lost some of the harsh raucous edge of their summer song. Now it is beautiful in a more tender, soulful way - it felt as though it was a communication from the heart, rather than a showy complex set of calls designed to attract a mate, driven by a frenzy of hormones.
The remaining patches of foliage were soft, gently green and rounded - the trees' trunks and limbs are long, curved, smooth, sinewy and expressive as they twine and stretch, up, across and down - showing us their physicality under that adornment - unafraid to be vulnerable, naked and yielding to the piercing wintery cold. The youthful fecundity and majesty of the summer and autumn has given way to the real strength. They stand, dancing, revealed, with the strength to just be - their worth and strength is not in what they do, but in their existence. To me, they embody the powerful affirmation: I am enough.
These graceful aging denizens of the forest are my siblings - and we are all one, held, supported and raised up by our mother, and integrated within the web of existence that is formed of living Qi - the dance of Yin and Yang, which together produce life energy. As one aspect of existence grows, the other diminishes, supporting and balancing the whole, and therefore enabling its existence. Winter is the cold, yielding, nurturing, earthy time, which is more Yin, as the plants and trees take their life force deep within, and down into the earth, and as animals we too feel a pull towards hibernation - settling in, gathering in enough food for the winter, and snuggling down for a cosy Hygge rest.
As I mull over these ideas, walking through the cold air, my fingers chilled and my nose a rosy pink colour, another layer of context appears in my observations. In the Chinese tradition, Winter is also the season associated with the Heart - so emotions and the heart's vulnerability/the need to protect and nurture it, are also reflected on the human level, in Winter. I find this very powerful, and also relate it to the Winter of our lives. The trees, and indeed everything in nature, shows us the example of how we can live in harmony with the flow of the Universe, rather than battling to overcome our natures, Western-style (as though they were a weakness, rather than a reality). I decide that as I age, I want to embody the brave, strong, unadorned, graceful beauty of the ageing trees in the final hours of the year - to be strong enough to embody that phase of my life as authentically and openly as I can. I hope I will be wise enough to realise my intrinsic worth - to become the knowledge and wisdom I have grown (and will continue to grow), and that like the trees, I will be able to embody that simple, profound affirmation: "I am enough", with the grace, power and acceptance that my lovely trees exemplified, on my New Year's Eve journey.
May we all travel forward gently on our paths, held and nurtured by our mother, in communion with our nature siblings, strong, brave and in tune with the Universe, so that we flow between yin and yang, in harmony within the web of existence.
Namaste, my friends.