On this cold blustery October morning I was sitting on a bench on Prospect Park West looking at the rich full canopy of leaves above which haven’t yet begun to change color or drop, and when I looked over at the mottled trunk just on the other side of the low stone wall, I noticed it was the same type of tree just outside my apartment house down the block. And yet the two trees couldn’t be more different!
This tree, known as the London plane (Platanus acerifolia) a cross between the American sycamore and the Oriental plane of central Asia, is certainly plentiful in New York and has been a symbol of the Parks Department for the last 75 years. Yet what a difference between these sister trees growing two hundred feet or so apart. The one in the park had ten times as many branches stretching every which way. It also had a thicker trunk which grew straight instead of leaning to the south like the one in front of my house in its effort to catch the light.
Simply put, the tree in the park grew freely. Its growth has been unrestricted. It was totally allowed to be itself. Whereas the one on the street has been continually cut back, its branches curtailed. Tree-pruners are regular visitors to these streets with their noisy sawing from cherry-pickers high off the ground. I flinch at the dreadful sound, and quicken my steps to get away from it. If I feel that way, I can only wonder what the poor trees are feeling, knowing their arms are going to be chopped off and unable to flee!
But this morning as I was thinking about the differences between the two trees, I wasn’t thinking about the whine of mechanical saws. I was thinking about the arts—all the arts—whether music, dance or drama, painting or writing—how they stretch us, allowing us to expand and grow more freely. And how we have to rein ourselves in for regular life—for street life—like the tree on my block. If the park (or the country) is where trees can expand and be totally themselves, then as artists we also have to confine ourselves (somewhat) to the stage or the studio or the rehearsal rooms when we let down the barriers of regular life and give ourselves freely to the passions of art.
And then I thought of the Hindu Goddess Kali with all her arms stretching out like the branches of trees. And how next to Her, we mortals with only two arms must appear as truncated as the tree on my block with most of its branches lopped off.
But I wasn’t only thinking of Art, I was thinking of Art and Alignment, and how nothing much gets done with my own art unless I am aligned with my purpose and intention, even if I’m not quite certain what it is at the time.
And then, thinking of Art and Alignment, and lots of branches and arms, or just a few, I thought of the images demonstrating the Emerald Alignment. (LINK) The figure standing straight and narrow, arms glued to its sides, while the emerald light, the higher light, the light of intention, moves down from the head and through the body, bringing all the energies into harmony and balance.
It’s the energy running through us. The light and the energy. It doesn’t matter how many arms we have, or how many branches there are on the tree, as long as the energy flows through it, unrestricted, unblocked and free, and in alignment…with the discipline of focused intention…and alignment. Ideas can (and do) fly through my head with lightning speed, but unless I line up my forces, all I will have is a mish-mash.
This blog is a bit of a mish-mash, but I think you get the idea ~