These have been strange times, as if we are in the midst of change, and not the good kind. Doubt and anxiety grip my creative life, and I know those emotions have overshadowed my passion for the work, and for some time. My day job, which has been a blessing in keeping me busy and getting steady paychecks appears to be coming to an end. I am seeing relationships end and friends in crisis. I am watching age and its cruelty affect loved ones. And then there is Britain.
Something finally snaps, in the form of several bones in my son's wrist, four days before we were scheduled to leave for a very active vacation. With surgery pending on his wrist and a useless right arm, we have to change our plans. All the sights and activities I had carefully planned for those seven days have to change, and I don't know what it will look like. Just like I don't know what a lot of our lives are going to look like in a month, a year, five years.
Then I see this wooden giraffe, sitting quietly under a tree, and I felt better.
This giraffe was carved with remarkable detail from a rather large log or stump, the base of the giraffe revealing a glimpse of its former self. Few things have more sense of permanence than a tree. They stand in the same spot for hundreds of years. They can become a reference point for other things around it, a meeting place, an important part of memories. Yet they change all the time. They grow, the leaves change color and drop in fall, new leaves form in spring. The tree is constantly in flux.
But you may have not imagined a tree would become a giraffe. For that to happen, the tree had to face the ultimate change. It had to die. The tree lost everything, its leaves, its growth, the place where it put down roots. I can't imagine a more bleak place than that, but if that didn't happen to this tree, it never would have become a charming giraffe that made me smile today and fear change and the unknown a little bit less. Because as scary as it is to march forward into the unknown, as hard as it can be leave behind everything we thought we needed in this life, it can lead us on a path to become something unexpectedly beautiful.