Interested in decluttering your life ? Wondering how to declutter your life? A recent advertisement in the local news-sheet caught my attention:
"IMPORTANT NOTICE: As we are well into the cold winter season, at a time when most trees lie dormant and growth in general comes to a standstill, we would like to bring to your attention that this is in fact the best time to prune your fruit trees. This will encourage a contained, better and healthier growth and will at the same time ensure you of a fresh organic fruit production. "
Winter time, cold and icy. The trees seem to sum it up perfectly, bare and still, no movement and no growth. Yet, if we take a closer look, the trees can teach us more. They stand firm and strong and with the intricate design of their branches now in perfect view they appear even more powerful, in a way. If they have dropped their leaves for a while it looks more in preparation than in retreat.
Peter Raven, president of the Missouri Botanical Garden and a renowned botanist explains that deciduous trees (Latin for falling) use an elite cellular mechanism to part company from their leaves. This happens because the leaves act as 'solar cells' in the summer but became superfluous in the winter months. That is why each winter little cells appear at the place where the stem of the leaf meets the branch and they push the leaf bit by bit until it falls off of the tree.
Raven describes leaves as the kitchen staff of the tree. They are busy in the spring and summer making food so that the tree can grow and thrive and reproduce. This is no longer necessary during the winter months as food production slows down when the days get shorter and cooler. So the tree lets its staff go. If trees did not lose their leaves they would not have the bother of growing new ones, but, according to Raven, trees are not the brightest bulbs! '
I'm not certain, however, that it's as straightforward as that. For, as we can see in the notice above, all trees – whether they drop their leaves or not – benefit from being pruned. In Great ideas for your garden (Jane Courtier et al., 2003) under the title 'Encouraging Growth' it states' removing old wood encourages the production of new shoots which, in turn, will flower and fruit more prolifically. The harder you prune the more vital the new growth. '
Why is it that we have to cut back in order to enable growth?
We can learn a lesson from everything, even those things that do not seem to be the 'brightest bulbs'. What seems to be a waste of time and energy can in fact provide an opportunity to gain new insight and understanding.
We all have personal kitchen staff, physical affiliations and emotional information we are hanging on to. Sometimes they are useful, the sun shines, life looks and feels glorious and growth is effortless. At other times they are simply superfluous. Problem is that if we carry enough extra stuff around for long enough it becomes awfully bulky and then getting anywhere is a challenge.
Sometimes we can feel burdened or overwhelmed and we are not sure what could be the cause. Maybe a little cleaning up could be helpful, some letting go of the leaves or even some trimming of the branches. Sounds simple, but sometimes this is quite difficult to achieve. Emotional bulk is particularly difficult to decipher so by practicing decluttering on a physical level we can help ourselves to understand it on other levels too.
We all know that lots of little messes can accumulate to create an incredible task. So start slowly and be persistent, it may not happen all at once, but we will see results if we keep at it. It can also help to walk away from it for a while to freshen up and then approach the task with renewed energy. Do not keep things you will never use and if you have items that will be better used by someone else give them away.
As we see with trees, what might have been useful at one time might not be productive at a later stage. And we can learn from them to adapt without getting too attached to extras that weigh us down. Those same leaves that act as solar panels reaching out and absorbing the sun, strengthening, supporting and nurturing, later fall off to create space – to grow some more.
It is interesting that this all happens in the winter months. We all have a winter time in our lives when it seems that whatever we do are not making much progress, it looks like we can not get things to budge no matter how much work we put in. Keep at it, the quiet time and all the effort invested will soon give way to bursting buds and abundant blossoms.
Courtier, J., Francis, AR, McHoy, P. and Mikolajski, A. in 'Great Ideas for your Garden', 2003, New Burlington Books.