The Art of Bending

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It’s that time again – the approach of the New Year. Even if you follow a different religious calendar, and don’t give the 1st of January much importance, it’s still hard not to get pulled into the momentum of it all.

We crave newness, freshness, a chance to start again or press reset. The New Year (capital letters to mark its monumental status) offers an opportunity in which to set new resolutions and reform behaviour we might not be so proud of.

My resolutions are generally exercise related, and usually fizzle out after a brief spurt of success. Come to think of it, most of my resolutions are variations on a theme – proving that change does take time, perhaps our greatest lessons in this life cannot be learnt overnight, or set in stone just because a new calendar goes up on the wall.

This year I’m thinking about something new – something that I haven’t given a great deal of conscious thought to before. The art of bending. It’s something I thought I was good at – and no, I’m not talking about yoga or gymnastics. I thought I was good at being flexible – being open minded, being surrendered to a higher plan. Having faced a few mild challenges in life so far, I thought I was well equipped with resilience and willingness to change.

But, as it happens, I’ve discovered this is not the case. When things don’t go my way, or are not to my liking, I experience a stubborn resistance that does no good for me, nor anyone else. What’s more, responding to change or challenge in this way reinforces my iron-clad belief that I am the doer and controller.

This morning I remembered a course I took many years ago in willow weaving. It’s a dying art, but was once widely practiced throughout the world to make fences, baskets, chairs and all kinds of practical items. The unique thing about willow, as opposed to another type of wood, is that the branches, if cut young and kept in water, remain supple. This enables them not just to be woven, but once they connect with the earth again, they can actually continue living – growing leaves and new shoots. Disconnected from the tree which gave them life, they can be replanted and flourish in foreign soil. The living willow rod is still nourished by the same life force that was present in the tree, now coming from a different source. What’s more, it is willing to be bent to be of service – to form an arch way to provide shade, to weave a fence that protects an animal or a chair that offers comfort and relief.


willow dome

So as 2015 approaches, rather than steeling myself to do something; rather than gritting my teeth to get ready for a storm, I want to try to be like a willow rod, supple yet strong, willing to be replanted. I want to learn the art of bending.



One Comment

  1. Very nice post. Usually a new year resolution implies that a flip of a calendar prompts us to be compulsive to follow a goal; i guess a resolution to have a willingness to bend would be much more pleasant and fulfilling.

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