It’s Easter Sunday.  If you’re part of a Christian tradition then today you’re celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Although I am not a Christian, I can appreciate the importance of this day to those who celebrate it.  After all, what’s more miraculous than rising from the dead?

I’ve been having a bit of a tough time lately.  I’m trying to figure out how to restore some much-needed balance to my life.  I took an internet self-assessment two weeks ago to measure the extent to which my job has become my life; I answered every question in the affirmative, which, on this particular quiz was not the healthy response.  However, I also remember a time when I actually had a very full life and a very fulfilling job and managed to juggle both quite well.  I’m not sure why I’ve become increasingly more focused on work over the last several years to the detriment of everything else.  But I have realized, and not a moment too soon, that I need to shift my priorities so my job returns to being something that I do rather than all that I am.

I moved to the Jersey Shore seven years ago, after the dissolution of my long-term partnership – the intimate variety, not the business type.  One of the women who I dated shortly after relocating, and who ended up becoming an important and enduring friend, gave me a tiny bamboo plant at the beginning of our relationship.  She didn’t know that I had been so depressed that I had left all of my plants outside to die once I moved because I couldn’t stand the thought of anything relying on me for its existence.  I felt a completely irrational sense of guilt over being a plant-killer so when I received the bamboo I decided, totally subconsciously, that this was my chance at a fresh start.  If I could keep this plant alive then maybe, just maybe, I could start my life over following the unexpected end of a relationship that I thought would last forever.

Fast-forward about six and a half years.  I had become unhealthy, sedentary and a total workaholic.  And my bamboo plant, which had grown from a two-inch sprout to the thriving four-feet-plus centerpiece of my livingroom, started dying.  The decline has been slow and, for me, painful.  I tried everything that I could think of to remedy the situation but to no avail.  I consulted friends, the internet and a local botanist and no matter what the intervention still the bamboo continued to die.  And still I continued to become more and more focused on work.

About three weeks ago, at a meeting with my colleagues, I let the cat out of the bag: work had completely consumed my life and I was at the end of my rope.  Speaking the truth can be risky but it can also be rewarding — if you don’t mind people walking on eggshells around you for a while.  As it turned out, I was not the only person in the room who felt that way, which I never would have known if I hadn’t spoken up.  I have returned to a practice of honest, daily self-reflection and I am making other changes to try to shift myself back into balance.  My art, which was nearly as dead as my bamboo, has just started to excite me again and I spent several days of this long holiday weekend preparing brand new images for a solo show next month.

This morning, I decided that the time had come to dispose of the bamboo; I no longer wished to be surrounded by dead things.  I wanted to salvage the vase so I shimmied the large root base out of the narrow vase opening and into the sink.  I started washing the bamboo, I’m not sure why, with cold water — the roots were slimy with black rot everywhere and all of the shoots off of the main were a droopy yellow  or a shrivelled brown.  I snapped each shoot off and as I thinned out the plant I exposed a brand new sprout off of the bottom of the main that was actually green.  I eliminated most of the roots and all shoots except for the main and the one new growth.  I returned my diminutive bamboo to the original little pot in which it was given to me all those years ago and it now sits in my livingroom again — no longer a centerpiece but still an example of the will-to-life in action.  Apparently, this is a time of resurrection after all.