Ivy ‘n’ Pine

For some unknown reason, after arriving home having parked in my carport, I often find myself sitting in my car scrolling through my phone, or just staring out my windscreen. I think maybe it’s the feeling of warmth within that enclosed space of my car that holds me there (me being the cold ‘bod’ that I am), I don’t know. But in recent weeks, I have found it to be a space where stories begin. And that’s how this story came about . . .

As I sat in my car, staring out through my windscreen across my driveway at the pencil pine tree that stands opposite my car space, this is what I saw:

And for all the times I’ve sat and stared at this space, today was the first time I actually saw what I was staring at. A smaller ivy like plant has sprouted, and with its large leaves has connected with and started intertwining amongst the much bigger pencil pine. And I ‘felt’ the words:

“Those you stand closely beside, you ultimately grow and intertwine with.”

And I was reminded of something I once read about how our brain chemistry literally changes based on our interactions. And I thought again of the importance of making sure our key connections are with people who result in positive ‘brain changes’ for us, which then ultimately impacts our mental health. This in turn is an influence on our choices for who we are as a whole being which in turn then impacts our life and potentially our overall health.

I found myself intrigued by the large green leaves of Ivy and how they have woven in amongst the branches and spindle like needles of Pencil Pine. And my thoughts went to that of a Christmas tree with Ivy being like a decoration on Pencil Pine.

And again the analogy grew, not that our connections should ‘decorate us’ but I think in some ways the healthy ones do exactly that, as they bring out the best in us, making us shine as better versions of ourselves.

So here we have two healthy plants growing alongside each other, so closely side by side, that one was now growing into the other. But then I noticed some areas of darker growth on Pencil Pine lower down at the base. Getting out of my car to check it out up close, I noticed there is quite a bit of dead undergrowth.

And so the anology continued to grow . . . while our connections may look healthy on the surface, what about those hidden parts? Is there dead (or dying) growth at the foundation?

In any and every relational connection, whether I’m Ivy or Pencil Pine (or anywhere in between) I continue to challenge myself as to:

Who am I ‘intertwining with?
Who am I ‘attaching’ myself to?
Who is ‘attaching’ themselves to me?
Is it healthy?
Is it in line with brain chemistry changes that will benefit me, and also benefit them?

And so, especially in this time when connection is limited and yet so vitally important, I encourage you to consider your own connections and to pursue those that benefit your mental health. Those that result in supporting and developing a better version of you, and the ‘you’ that you seek to be.

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