During a discussion with some like-minded colleagues, we all mentioned feeling at a point in our lives where we needed to sift through our commitments and experiences and “clean house.” In some ways we meant that literally. But we also referred to the need to clear out certain aspects of our lives in order to make room for new (sometimes as-yet-unknown) adventures and directions.
I tend to think in images or metaphors as a way of sense-making, so I offered, “Seems as though we all want to do some pruning.” There was a long pause of collective quiet and heads nodded in agreement. The idea resonated at the time and has stuck with me since. So much so that I realized I had the topic, or theme, for my very first blog!
What pruning means to me
My first, literal, thought is that I’m not partial to the idea of pruning. I like “wild type” growth of the native plants around my living space. Although I enjoy visits to “tended gardens,” I am more drawn to shrubby, overgrown spots with safe niche spaces for birds and other wildlife. When I think of pruning, I imagine severely whacked bare rosebushes or damaged trees that look stark and exposed. Yet, I know that…
… sometimes the “old” growth prevents areas of new growth from nourishment it needs to flourish.
… the plant might be growing in a way that damages other precious things around it– or that limits maximum shade for our relief from the Arizona sun.
… the new growth that happens after pruning can be lush and beautiful.
Pruning can seem harsh if done abruptly, in haste, with excessive enthusiasm, or without mindful choices about where and to what extent. So a key to pruning is knowing the purpose and nature of the “job.” The Sleeping Beauty Thorn Hedge needs a powerful sword and strong arm while the delicate Bonsai Tree requires gentle grooming with micro-fine clippers and a steady hand.
What could use some pruning in our lives? What can we do without? Who or what can do without us? What needs to be trimmed to make room for new growth?