I bought these two tiny maple trees in October at a bonsai show. Of course I was kind of lax about watering them, and the leaves fell off...but I wasn't entirely sure if they were alive, because, well, they're maple trees, and it was fall, and maple trees lose their leaves and go to sleep in the fall. I'm happy to report that, especially now that they're on the house's drip irrigation system, they're very much alive, and sprouting like mad. I've never seen anything like it--I've never had plants that I've actually paid attention to. I check it every day, trying to get it to fill out on the lower half instead of growing upward, trying to train them to grow into miniature trees instead uf full-size saplings. I have almost no idea what I'm doing, but it's fun! If I cut a strong shoot at the top with a big leaf or two, within 24 hours another shoot or two has appeared down at the bottom. The plants hold inside themselves this insatiable urge to grow, grow, and keep growing, and I guess bonsai is the art of redirecting that life force by pruning. But the life force is awe-inspiring.

I think maybe this is some of what we learn from new life in general: to find that life force inside ourselves, grown and crusty though we may be. The newness, the constant wonder--re-learning to see the world shimmering around us, everything we encounter as a part of ourselves. I used to think that the loss of that wonder was a failing on humanity's part, a developmental Fall from Grace; but these days I think that it just is. When we again learn to see the world shimmering, it's a different, much deeper understanding of what we see. We now know that some things and people can hurt us, and maybe we know how to minimize or avoid that without losing the shimmering or closing ourselves off to the universe. We can see the suffering in the world because we've experienced it--not so much the crushing poverty and oppression for most of us, but the more subtle diseases of people following unsatisfiable desire or unshakeable fear, chasing their own tails to make their misery go away. Youth and new life remind us that we have a past, that we once saw the world that way too, and help us keep our compassion for the world.