“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”


On this 4th of July in the year of Our Lord 2014 I celebrate my own Independence Day.

Once again my home is entirely my own (for good and bad) and I am Master of my own time (also for good and bad). Given the new routines imposed upon me by sharing my home with a lodger – one of my best friends, actually – I think I have a better chance than ever of carving out a proper use of my time. I know, Dear Reader – I said ‘better’; which is not necessarily the same as ‘good’. It will still take effort and discipline to avoid falling back into my old ways, but my plan is to seize this opportunity and step up to the challenge.

I visited my favorite tree today – a massive horse-chestnut. It sits in the corner of a graveyard here in central Stockholm, thick long branches reaching high into the sky, massive roots digging deep into the earth among the graves. It has borne witness to many of the twists and turns in my life and its shade is a place of meditation and reflection for me. I can spend hours reclined on the bench beneath it, just staring up into the crown, mulling things over; gathering strength. I like to imagine that it carries the essence of those buried beneath it, its branches, leaves and flowers a noble extension of their lives. I love trees. There are few living things on this earth than can aspire to the longevity, usefulness and quiet powerful grace of a tree. So many species of tree stand for centuries – even millennia – while us humans mill about beneath them. In comparison, we are mere day-flies.

From the viewpoint of a massive oak, our lives are short and meaningless. Any change we can bring about in our brief existence passes in the shedding of a leaf. Then again, nothing ever really changes anyway, only the way we look at things. To change anything significant in our lives we must change our view of the world first. Being witness to (and part of) the beginning of independence in the life of another is both inspiring and sobering. If we can do it in our early twenties, why not later in life as well? We can all take those first steps toward something new and different that gives our lives direction and a fresh start. All it takes is the courage to build momentum and make that leap. Sure, we might fall – but maybe, just maybe, we will fly…