Polka-dot gum leaves?
I’ve never before noticed them. I haven’t been paying attention.
I walk up the hill to the enchanted forest on my friend’s property. The knotted rope of my bodymind begins to untangle after a hectic time.
A personalised mantra for the day emerges: My main job is to relax.
I am momentarily freed from responsibilities of elder-care, both in my personal world and in my art therapy professional world.
I relearn how to breathe.
That is, I remind myself, it is safe to slow down and sigh. The world will not collapse because I’ve given myself permission to fully inhale and exhale. Geez. I must have been stressed.
I walk up the hill. One bright yellow leaf stands out from the dark soil. It’s spotted. Kind of splotched, like a painting. Polka-dot gum leaves? I’ve never before noticed them. Could the dots be caused by disease? Are they a natural part of the ageing process? I am so ignorant about biology – about most ologies, really.
The spots are unevenly, imperfectly placed. I find this beautiful. Don’t wise people talk about the perfection of imperfection? Well, here it is.
More polka-dot leaves appear.
I gather them.
I have a creative impulse. I will arrange these leaves somehow. Squiggly patterned and bi-coloured leaves join the flock.
Not one of the leaves is perfect.
They are scarred, torn, lop-sided. They are breaking down, beginning their ground-based decomposition after living the high life.
I place them. I experiment. Leaf by leaf, dot by dot, they come together in new formations.
I celebrate each leaf,
severally and collectively.
Even old leaves can form new patterns. Even dying leaves, separated from their prime source of vitality and community, can express life.
This is the nature of nature, of living-and-dying cycles, of art therapy in residential aged care.
Is it any wonder the book I am working on is called ‘Leaf by Leaf’?
Tell me your stories
about the perfection of imperfection.
with love, art and soul from Sally