Yellow School Bus Days

tree ring

As a lover of learning, September has always been a favorite month of mine, for connecting to new studies or moving forward with a new mindset. My days of waiting to be picked up by the yellow school bus are long over, but the wirings of the “back-to-school” spirit are hard-coded. The signals to sharpen my pencils and crack open the books clearly stand the test of time.

I spent the summer beginning my studies in two topics: contemplative psychology and Reiki, which included dipping my toes into primary principles of quantum physics. This Fall I am eager to organically blend the new material into my personal life, teaching, and private client practice. When asked about it by a fellow teacher, I shared the following image – “You know how trees show their age in rings that are etched inside their trunks across their lifespan? I feel like I was just given a new ring to expand into.”

The image just came out in the moment and did not really have much certainty in my knowledge of tree rings. I felt it was only fair to our mighty trees that I learn more about the process before appropriating their natural life experience as synonymous with my own. It was time for a little light research.

Dendrochronology is the scientific method of dating based on analysis of tree rings, also known as growth rings. The rings grow in speed relationships along with the seasons of the year, so typically one new growth ring appears annually. The inner and outer ring segments are defined by natural elements during different times of the year. In fact, if all the elements of the seasons are not in balance during a full year, a ring could be incomplete or even missing. For instance, in 1816, many oak trees in a particular region were missing a growth ring; it was named “Year Without a Summer”. Ayurveda, the Vedic science of health and life, teaches how humans also require natural elements from our surroundings to maintain balance in health; this illustrates our own dependence on nature. Could it be that our cycle of September learning is not only a cultural impulse but also a natural one? It would seem so.

When trying to express myself to that fellow teacher, I was primarily trying to express the physical and psychological expansion of personal growth, and specifically from an internal and external point of view. My heart and mind were expanding as I acquired new gifts of knowledge. It seems as if my tree ring image was not without reason after all.

It was also clear that this experience was universal.

During recent conversations with teachers in our sangha, it was thrilling to hear about so many of them going into additional study paths in related fields. Medical school residencies, social work, physical therapy, modalities in bodywork and therapeutics, careers in higher education, and other such cycles of learning were calling to them. And with our new training class just beginning their foundation course last week, we can all be inspired by their new and brave pursuit in becoming teachers.

Trees often inform our human existence. Their roots and branches depict strength and flexibility, while simultaneously touching earth and sky. This time, however, we look deep within the tree structures to find the lessons we need to embark on our Fall studies ahead. Personally, I find there is no greater reward as a teacher than to see your students and colleagues discover their own voices and independently carry out knowledge quests. I wish for each of you to recognize your own growth ring during the upcoming year. And perhaps you too are naturally supported to begin this September.

Yellow school bus not required.

– TaraMarie Perri

4 Responses to “Yellow School Bus Days”
  1. kathy says:

    I love this one TM 🙂 My own fall is being framed by the opportunity to be a student in some new-to-me areas, and your post was quite fitting for my moment. There are times when my educational pursuits are fueled by a subtle anxiety or deep sense of inadequacy (the “I don’t know enough” syndrome), but somehow this season, the fall rolled in and soothed some of that chasing mentality. In that process, I have been more able to let curiosity and creativity be the nudge into learning over the hard edge of discipline. The book of choice in the book club is instrumental in supporting that.

    • mindbodybrew says:

      Kathy – so glad to hear this – the soothing of the chasing in particular. I have the same struggle. I am so glad the book club book has aided in the grounding required to navigate Fall differently. Those intersections are always so special when experienced … and even more so when we can share them across the miles with someone else!

  2. Nick Dill says:

    TM, I absolutely love this post! It is very common in this practice and in dance to use the imagery of a tree. Roots are grounding so that the branches and grow and reach. Our bodies mirror this. Yet, I have never thought about the third dimension of a tree – it’s width. I guess I always think of an enormous Red-oak tree when using this imagery, but this post has really given me a new perspective on the similarities between trees and the human form. Yes, our bodies are like trees. We have discovered that. But why can’t our minds be like trees too? Not only do we grow new rings with new knowledge, we can also take on the mentality of a tree. Trees are calm. They stand strong in the ground, but they simply go with the flow. When the wind blows, they simply rustle their leaves and sway a little. We can use this mentality in our practice and in life. We stay rooted in our presence, and when a storm comes, we simply let it take us, rather than fighting against it.

  3. Lorena Delgado says:

    TM Beautiful post! Trees are an incredible source of imagery to all of us, finding analogies between them and our lives give us so much to grasp. I certainly share the feeling of “the I don’t know enough” syndrome cited by Kathy and the anxiety of not having the time but I would like to embrace the imagery of the rings by opening the opportunity to learn, to create another ring, in this new year. I’m very thankful for all the knowledge that the past year (ring) gave me and I’m ready to be present in my day to day so I can enjoy and learn from all the lessons, the people and the moments that life offers me.

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