Proximity: A Meditative Visual Poem for Those Reaching for Something They Can’ t Quite Grasp, Inspired by Trees

When I am unfortunate, I like to envision myself ending up being a tree. Branches that bend without breaking, fractal with possibility, reaching resolutely towards the light. Roots touching the web of belonging underneath the surface area of the world, that stunning mycelial network succoring and supporting and linking tree to tree– connection so simple and easy, so imperturbable, so devoid of the fragility of human relationships.

After blogging about wintering trees as supreme instructors in strength, I got a charming note from a reader in England– theater artist, motion director, and Hatha Yoga instructor Andrew Dawson, a previous trainee of Merce Cunningham’s. He shared a kindred-spirited movie he had actually made, in his words, “for those who are reaching for something more but can’t quite grasp it, for those on their journey, not yet at their destination.”

It salved me exceptionally, this meditative visual poem– part David Byrne, part Bill T. Jones, and part Buddha– radiating Hermann Hesse’s century-old knowledge that “whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree [but] wants to be nothing except what he is.”

Commissioned by the London International Mime Festival, recorded by Dawson’s boy, Roman Sheppard Dawson, and including music by author Jonny Pilcher, the movie was influenced by a line from a brief lyrical essay entitled “Close” from poet and thinker David Whyte’s excellent collection Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words ( town library)– a book of lyrical reanimations of language that touched me deeply when I initially read it numerous years ago (and for the current English edition of which I had the honor and pleasure of making up the intro).

We live by automatically determining the inverted ranges of our distance.

Here is Whyte’s initial mycelium of motivation for Dawson’s Proximity:


is what we often are: near joy, near another, near leaving, near tears, near God, near despairing, near being done, near stating something, or near success, and even, with the best sense of fulfillment, near offering the entire thing up.

Our human essence lies not in arrival, however in being nearly there, we are animals who are on the method, our journey a series of impending awaited arrivals. We live by automatically determining the inverted ranges of our distance: an intimacy adjusted by the vulnerability we feel in quiting our sense of separation.

To surpass our regular identities and end up being closer than close is to lose our sense of self in short-lived pleasure, a kind of arrival that just opens us to much deeper kinds of intimacy that blur our repaired, managing, surface area identity.

To purposely end up being close is a brave type of unilateral disarmament, a chancing of our arm and our love, a determination to threat our love and an unconscious statement that we may be equivalent to the inescapable loss that the vulnerability of being close will bring.

Human beings do not discover their essence through satisfaction or ultimate arrival however by remaining near the method they like to take a trip, to the method they hold the discussion in between the ground on which they stand and the horizon to which they go. What makes the rainbow stunning, is not the pot of gold at its end, however the arc of its journey in between occasionally, in between once in a while, in between where we are now and where we wish to go, highlighted above our unconscious heads in main colour.

We are in impact, constantly, close; constantly near the supreme trick: that we are more genuine in our easy desire to discover a method than any location we might reach: the action in between not comprehending that and comprehending that, is as close as we get to joy.

Complement Dawson’s poetic brief movie with Dylan Thomas’s cinematic poem about how trees brighten the marvel of our humankind and Robert Macfarlane’s reflection on how trees embody the trick to healthy relationships, then review Whyte’s lyrical rerooting of the significances of nerve, vulnerability, forgiveness, and love.


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