Recently a new acquaintance went through a pretty traumatic break up. I won’t go into details, but in a periods where I was helping her work through some nastiness I had the occasion to talk to her the Nature & Meaning of relationships, at least as I saw them..
In that conversation, I brought up the metaphor that I often use–at least in my head–for relationships in that I see them as a tree. People plant them together and as the relationship grows, it develops much as a tree would… ramifying, spreading out–getting stronger and thicker over time–but also suffering if it is not cared for or abused.
In this conversation, my acquaintance–who is versed in silviculture and dendrology took my metaphor and expanded it. She noted that the hidden part of the tree–the part that is underground, is often noted as being 2x as big as that which is above ground. Researching this, it’s clear that this notion refers to the huge and widespread root system of the tree that extends way beyond the tree itself.. as seen below.
On the metaphorical level–which is where we were–this also makes a ton of sense. Relationships are not just about what is seen in the external objective world–but they also are constructed and embodied in the hidden/internal/subjective world of our own minds. They are constituted by memories and feelings… by semantic frames and situations that are burned into our muscle memories.
This internal world can be vast and intricate. While it may not be bulky, it makes up for bulk with vast and interwoven complexity.
Extending this metaphor further–when it comes to the destruction of a relationship–when the tree is cut down/burned to the ground/destroyed… it is not always true that everything about that relationship disappears. Just as you can cut down a tree and even grind the stump down (as they did to two trees in our front yard last year), and then watch the tree attempt to restart itself ALL OVER THE YARD–a destroyed relationship may linger in a person. It may attempt to regrow and restart due to the thickness of the internal and hidden structure.
The roots of relationships run deep and wide… and the longer the relationship–the more true this is.
Sometimes this may work out for the better, sometimes not. But it is certainly a very important and added layer to understanding just how relationships work in the world.
By the way–I’m going to try to write a bit more now. The past six months have been taken over by the fact that I’ve had two 1/2 time jobs that were both more than half time. This situation has resolved itself and things will go back to normal soon.
In any case–I’ve been saving topics up and hope to write more about them over the coming weeks… one of which is related to this topic and might be thought of as an “ecological understanding” of reality as opposed to the analytical understanding that I too often encounter. Trees as relationships might be seen in this light… at least as an example or model of what I’m thinking about here…
More later.. g’night.