There’s this maple tree around the corner from my place that’s leaves always change colour before any other. By the ides of August, this tree’s top and middle leaves have already started to turn a burnt orange, some even a deep red. Even though most people aren’t ready for fall’s chilly nights by August 15, this tree doesn’t ever fail to be the first form of vegetation in my neighbourhood to tell everyone, “Fall is coming. Be ready for leaf raking, pumpkin spice everything, apple picking and cozy sweaters.”
I’ve noticed this tree and its intentions ever since I was a kid. It has always made me smile and to this day, whenever I drive or walk by, a smirk begins to rise at the top right of my mouth, making my eyebrows cock upwards and perhaps even specks of blush spiral through my cheeks.
I could be in my most sour of moods and this tree wouldn’t hesitate to make my moment, as I press down on the break pedal before reaching the stop sign a few metres away.
Before I know it, the beginning of October arrives and the maple has started to lose its leaves. They scatter the pavement of the driveway belonging to the custom-designed house being built. They scatter the sidewalk, the road and the grass. These now burgundy and brown leaves are everywhere. No other tree’s leaves have yet to make a presence on the earth or pavement.
When walking by, footsteps crunch only over those leaves belonging to the very first fall. And when the other trees start to shed, the first tree stands bare, its wooden branches outstretched with thin twigs poking in every direction. A reminder, perhaps, that when we reach fall’s quick end, we are greeted with winter’s often bitter presence. Hoodies, scarves, mittens, wind, snowstorms, but also hot chocolate and rich desserts, the holiday season, sparkling lights and a time for giving and spending time with loved ones, perhaps returning home for a stay.
This first maple tree continues this pattern in the spring and summer. Its branches are the first to bud and its green leaves are the earliest to bloom. And again, as I walk or drive by, I’m re-informed that soon, the cold air will turn warm and moist. That soon, the flowers will grow, the lawns will need cutting, the bikinis will need fitting and the vegetables will need planting.
With each season that passes, the intentions of this magnificent tree remain the same. If this tree were a person, I imagine it would start each day with an inspirational thought about leadership and power, strength and passion, intelligence and knowledge, beauty and self-image.
At my very first yoga class three years ago, the instructor told her yogis to set an intention. I had always perceived an intention to mean remembrance of someone lost, hope for someone in need or praise for someone good. And yes, an intention can mean as such, but we can also set them for ourselves – for what we want or what we are training ourselves to be.
A few weeks ago, I started practicing yoga regularly again. In the early stages of the meditation, before energy pours through my veins, pushing myself back into the very first downward dog, plank or triangle pose, I have started to recite these words in my head to myself: “I am strong. I am powerful. I am smart. I am beautiful.”
The strength I refer to doesn’t mean I can move a tractor trailer with one push, but it means I can get through anything even if I’m afraid I can’t. The power I speak of doesn’t convince me that I’m a queen, but it convinces me that I can use my strength to do what I believe is important. When I remind myself of the intelligence I have, I’m not being reminded that I’m 23-years-old with three post-secondary credentials. Instead, I remind myself that I’m capable of using my strength and my power effectively. The beauty I tell myself I radiate doesn’t tell me I have a perfect face or a toned stomach, it tells me that my strength, power and intelligence shine through and communicate with the others around me to create something innovative an important.
Like the four seasons, intentions change. The confidence and passion within the person making said intentions, however, does not.