Imagine the Possibility




Imagine the Possibility

(from Brainstorms)

What a gift that we can begin again.


Imagine the possibilities.


I sit on the deck and listen to the birds

sing their morning song,

slightly different

from the day before.


The sun peeks its head

above the tops of trees

as the wind rattles their leaves.

And I wonder how many new cells

there are in my body today

and how many have been shed.


Imagine the possibility

of a few hundred new days,

almost the same,

yet slightly different

than the one before.


I wrote this poem on Rosh Hashanah several years ago. It has become a sort of touchstone poem for me for the holiday, which coincides with the fall equinox, a season of turning and reflection. I take the opportunity to look back on the past year, to notice what has changed and how I’ve grown, and to recognize the ways of being I might have outgrown. It’s a time for me to attend to the relationships I have with myself, with others, and with the universe.


Yesterday was Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish year 5781. I knew I’d miss being with my extended family, singing with my friends in the choir, and visiting with people in person at the synagogue. Since everything about this year is different, I wanted to find a different way to observe the holiday, one that felt meaningful for today.


Years ago, my friend and creative catalyst, Katherine Torrini, introduced me to a project called “dream trees.” We took clay and molded a base, added branches adorned with wire and beads, and then wrote our wishes and dreams on gift tags and strung them on the tree. It had been five years since I made my last dream tree, and I thought maybe now was a good time to make another one. My kids weren’t totally enthusiastic, but when I invited a friend and her daughters to join us, suddenly my daughter was all in. We sat outside for hours making our trees, threading beads through the wires and wrapping the wire around the branches. My friend and I talked about current events, told stories about our families, and often drifted into the silence of our own thoughts as the trees whispered to us in the breeze.


Finally, the time came to write my dreams on the tags and add them to the tree. I grabbed a handful from the supply table and sat back down at my spot. I wrote a few then stopped, still holding the pen in my hand. I sat for a few minutes, then turned to my friend who was sitting across the patio from me. “It’s really hard for me to imagine the future,” I told her. She said she felt the same way. There are so many unknowns, so many uncertainties. Every thought felt like either a wishful fantasy or a setup for disappointment. I put my pen down. Maybe dream trees weren’t such a good idea after all.


This morning, I came outside with my coffee and looked out at the wild land below my deck. The intense summer heat of Texas has given way to cooler temperatures, and we’ve had some rain. I noticed that leaves were beginning to green on stalks that earlier had shriveled and browned from drought. “Coming back to life,” I thought. But another voice reminded me that they were always bursting with life, even when I couldn’t see it; that decay is a breaking apart, but not a breakdown. And what breaks apart has the potential to become something new in and of itself.


Wishes and dreams are not enough, but they are essential. I’m going to give myself some space to settle into dreaming, to let grief become a signpost on my journey, marking the way forward by revealing what matters most to me. I’m wondering: If we can break the grief apart, let it break us apart, would that create a portal for us to join together both in mourning what has been and in embracing each morning with renewed gratitude for what remains? Can we plant the seeds of a dream for what will be even if the form of that dream is not yet clear?