Heart Valve Open – By Jen Black

There are these two beautiful trees outside two windows of my home.

They were planted new when I moved in four years ago.

All this time I’ve watched them grow.

And they have certainly watched me.

When I first moved in they were barely reaching the windowsill.

Like little kids on tiptoes peeking in to see.

I have watched them grow slowly and surely, thicker and stronger and taller and brighter, with every changing season and mood, and oh how they move when those Santa Ana winds come through.

I have danced with them and for them, and told them secrets, and stared at them for hours and done things that probably really scared them.

One grew tall and slender and looked like a man to me. The other grew fuller and wider and I could see this must be the lady.

They became like friends to me, as I became better friends with me, and I saw my own growth and health reflected in their beauty.

One day I suddenly notice they are almost to the tops of the windows! That must be three feet of growth! I gasp at their maturity, and take a step back, feeling honored I have even bothered to notice, for nothing lasts forever, and all of life is movement, and things come and go in a split second of a moment.

Like these trees.

When I returned home from a few days on the road recently, I had a gasp of another degree.

The trees had been sawed off right at the center of each.

Cut in half, basically, taking them back to where we began four years in the breeze.

They were trimmed so thin they were transparent, indeed. I couldn’t help but think of the last article I wrote for this blog, called “You’ve Lost Weight.” In this article I spoke of the fact that many people had told me I lost weight. I looked at these trees and laughed dully at the thought that they too had lost weight.

These trees really are like me, I thought.

I recognize these sawed-off limbs, too. Yes, I see. They look like the branches that were recently chopped from the trunk of my own living tree. The people that are missing leave me feeling a gaping vulnerable destiny. The crusty old leaves and ways about me that I’ve clung to fearfully, believing they are what fulfill me.

I got a chair and sat down.

I sat there to stare as I so often had only now there was a lot less to cheer about.

And there I saw it: a heart valve open.

At the center of the more feminine tree, I noticed two sawed-off branches, making what appeared to me to be severed heart valves with the other half completely missing, and pointing right to me, as if I was now the heart beating.

I sat there breathing.

I felt I was sitting in the center of me.

I knew I was looking at me.

I am no different than this tree. I am not different from anything.

We are all One. Do you see?

We are all in this together, every dog, man and flea. We are made of the same energy. Everything I see is a part of me.

Now I am remembering.

I looked at this heart valve open, and I declared that I would not be sad. I refuse to feel pity or shame or grief or guilt for this tree, and I will not feel it for me, not for any part of anything.

It is my choice how I see everything.

There is no more room for doubt and there is so much space for celebration.

I trust that these trees and I are perfectly as we should be at this moment in time. We have fresh haircuts, and will feel some new and exciting air, and we will grow again from here. We will create new branches and colorful new leaves…

…And broken limbs will not break me.