The pluralities within this festive centrepiece are manifold. Different varieties of pine, fir, cedar, cypress and redwood are just some of the common evergreens used to brighten the season’s celebrations. And there are bewildering arrays of ornaments to embellish its foliage.
When I was a kid I loved sitting under the lit tree while playing with the function controller that could adjust it’s lighting effects. As the different colours cascaded, flashed and twinkled in an array of bedazzling ways, the tree took on distinctly different appearances. And not just the tree, my body and the entire room will be imbued with this fast changing display of resplendence.
The Christmas tree is versatile in how it looks and what it exudes. It clearly demonstrates how everything is what it is only because of a confluence of many different factors. So too with people; how they appear and what they express is nothing but the integration of elaborate blends of ingredients.
A little click of a button can transform the lighting of a Christmas tree, so too can my little gestures make radical difference in a person’s mood. A little smile, a courteous greeting or a kind word; just some of the small gifts I can offer to brighten another’s day. Nobody is guaranteed grumpy or sad. It’s circumstances along with a mind-boggling array of elements that make people what they are.
Place the Christmas tree on a pedestal and it will look regal. In a big room with high ceilings, it might look dwarfed. In a small room it would be intensely bright and warm. It can be made to blend with other season’s decor or made to stand out in an otherwise stark room. Likewise, I can place people in high regard or close in my heart to make them appear beautiful, noble and skilful. I can just as easily make them look very small with prejudiced stereotyping and rigid or outdated labels. And the manner I engage with others can even bring out the best or worst in them.
Every being can benefit from knowledge and nourishment shared. Everyone is like a tree that can be adorned and lit. Even a willowy tree can be placed in a corner to make it stand upright. A weak trunk can feel supported in a basket of bricks. There are multiple ways in which a person too can be made to feel stable, secure and strong.
Even if I don’t have the means to help, at the very least I can refrain from making harmful and negative conclusions about others. We are all works in progress. Someday, even the best tree has to wither and die. Sometimes the demise is untimely or the fall hard. Sometimes it gets razed to the ground by sudden disasters. Similarly our steady gait, it can break at any time. The changing fortunes of the people of the world helps me remember my own vulnerabilities and those of my loved ones.
I can be just as merciful towards my own shortcomings. And being aware of the effects of others, there is less compulsion to be swayed by fear mongers or submit to pessimism.
I need never give up; there is always something that can help illumine my being and path. It can be as little as a simple morning ritual; meditate or dance to an uplifting song. I could choose to stop a few seconds to appreciate the beauty in my experiences. I can keep learning from that which I resonate with. I may never know if and when the tree of my being will find its home but I can find my fulfilment by joyfully adding the elements that speak to my heart.
And just as the ornaments and lighting of choice change with my evolving taste and influences, so too my preferences in human attributes. I need think twice before I condemn a certain trait or action. For given the right situation or time, it may even appear laudable. Even my own personal definitions of the desirable in life are always changing; how can I dictate what others should appreciate, remember, forget, value or condemn. For myself too, I’m free to learn and espouse entirely new sets of skills, qualities or virtues. There is no regret in relinquishing the accomplishments of past, nor am I obliged to live up to descriptions that no longer fit or handed down by others.
Depending on the hands that decorate, the tree will accordingly change its style despite the ornaments remaining the same. So also different lives live with different effects despite the same contributing factors. Each experiences losses and calamities differently; I cannot project my own fears or even history from seemingly similar events. The many aspects of a circumstance is not evident to those outside of it.
Some can create a pretty tree with few trinkets but some can only sit in despair despite an abundance; comparisons can be meaningless. Besides, the art of trimming and decorating is not a competition to come up with the brightest, tallest or fullest tree. Every tree holds its beauty differently. Sometimes it’s the fragrance of the evergreen. Other times it’s the colours or richness; its stature or freshness. There is a perfect tree for every type of room and there is a space just right for every type of tree.
I enjoy each tree for its unique features, so too can I learn to enjoy human quirks without judging. If possible I can offer an ornament or help string the lights; else just admire the trees I prefer and allow the rest to display their diverse renditions to those who adore them. I see value in every Christmas tree, so why miss the merit in every living being.