A Forest of Rings

This post is for all of you who have suffered, strained, cried, been pushed, felt deep pain, and have kept walking, kept living, kept hoping and believing.

Last month I was in California visiting a friend. One of the first days that we were there we went to Muir Forest National Monument, otherwise known as The Redwoods. I live in a mountain town. At the base of a giant 14,000ft mountain range, I have to say, the views don’t get old. I love the mountains and I love seeing them when I drive to work. I love being able to go into them and hike and become awestruck over and over again. All that said, my personal favorite piece of geography is the forest.

I LOVE the smells of the forest, the feeling of damp dew in the air and on the moss, the sounds of life echoing off the absolutely giant tree trucks, the sun shining in through the canopy…it’s magical. I love that the forest has a balance of heat and cold to cool you off after hiking for a while. I love the wildlife and the dozens of different fauna you’ll see while walking. Suffice to say, I was absolutely awestruck for nearly the entire time that we were in Muir Woods.

While there, I saw this incredible tree trunk where they took a dissection of the tree and labeled different dates and places corresponding to each ring. Some rings were thinner (meaning a cooler season) and IMG_0428some were thicker than the rest (meaning a warmer season). There were rings that could tell a person that a great fire happened this year, or a season of plentiful precipitation. There are people who study climate and atmospheric conditions during different periods in history from the wood. They can learn about changes over time and predict certain things in our future using projections. In short, they could tell you a great many things about what that tree had been through over the years.

I think that as I was staring in disbelief at the many, many years that were represented on this tree trunk, I began to think about what each ring meant. At first I was like, “Really Eric, you’re having this metaphorical moment with tree rings right now? That’s pretty cliché.” But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t help but think about how our lives are very similar.

Now, we shed our “rings” so to speak. Every day we have new skin and new cells, which I am quite grateful for. Still, most humans on this earth have been through a good deal of heartache, pain, loss, warm seasons, and cold seasons. We’ve acquired “rings,” over time. We’ve walked through trials and come out the other side. Like scars left on a body, the trials tell a story. Like the rings in a tree, our sorrow, difficulty, and struggle write a narrative that speaks to one thing: Our perseverance. The “rings,” also tell of the warm seasons though. The good times we’ve had. The good memories that shape who we are. We are capable of enjoyment and love. We are not just forged with fire, but with sunlight…with warmth. Our lives speak to the grand story we’ve been living.

There was one commonality in all the trees around me; they were still standing, growing, making rings. And most importantly, the rings make the tree stronger. The rings fortify the tree against future hardship. Adversity will always come to us in this life, but it really is the “rings,” that make us stronger.  Just don’t forget to have some warm seasons too.

Thanksgiving Day Explained

Thanksgiving. A national, cultural day of feast, friends, football, and naps. More recently, young, familyless millennials have adopted and gathered under the banner of “Friednsgiving,” for those living on their own who want impossible amounts of food on Thursday also.

So, whether you live in Argentina, New Zealand, India, or Iceland, you most likely know what the Amercian tradition of Thanksgiving is. If you live in any of these countries: (Australia, Canada, Grenada, Liberia, Netherlands, Philippines, Saint Lucia) You even observe some form of Thanksgiving.

Here is a short catch up to the past 479 years…or so. Ahem… Continue reading “Thanksgiving Day Explained”

A Many Father’s Day

Sunday is Father’s Day. A day we celebrate Father’s of all kinds. The Soccer Dad’s, the science fair Dad’s, the teaching Dad’s, and the “there for you” Dad’s. Father’s Day isn’t always easy because of divided homes. I see that more now in my job as a counselor than I feel I ever did. Like many holiday’s, Father’s Day can be pretty difficult when brokenness enters the picture. I get that. It’s hard for me to change that perspective once I’ve been exposed to it, even when I haven’t experienced it. I can’t have empathy in that sense, but I have sympathy. Continue reading “A Many Father’s Day”

Mother of the Year

Today, I am grateful for my Mother, Sharon Peterson. I have written quite a few posts on my blog about my mother, as referenced (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). You might say that she is in the top ten things featured in my writing. Pretty important person you might say. Both would be pretty true. She’s kind of a big deal. There are a lot of clichés out there, “my mom is better than your mom,” or, “the best mom of ALL THE MOMS!” And while these are true about my mom, they kind of fall short. Continue reading “Mother of the Year”

30: Or, Why I’m Not Freaking Out

No. This is not a “30 things I noticed once turning 30,” post, or even a, “God, I’m 30, but I still don’t have babies,” post. It’s definitely not a, “I’m 30 and I feel myself rotting,” post.

I’m turning 30 in a few days. No longer having “twenty” as an identity is a bit odd…now that I’m sitting in this comfortable leather chair and thinking about my greater existence. Haha, turning thirty for me is not as much of a deal as some. If you’re a fan of the TV show Friends, you know what I’m talking about. They devote the entire episode to remembering each of group turning thirty years old. Rachel is freaking out about getting “old,” and they recall their previous milestones at thirty. I just don’t feel the same. I guess I’m similar to my dad in this respect. It’s another year, and you won’t feel much different afterwards. Now, this gets a little less true the closer you get to 40, 50, 60, and 70. As for me, I’m still young, not old. Continue reading “30: Or, Why I’m Not Freaking Out”