“I see your true colours shining through. I see your true colours and that’s why I love you. So don’t be afraid to let them show, your true colours, true colours are beautiful, like a rainbow.”
Billy Steinberg & Tom Kelly
Have you ever feasted your eyes on the beauty of a Rainbow Eucalyptus tree? It is a tree of unique magnificence. As with all eucalyptus trees, this variety sheds its bark regularly, but the uniqueness of this species is in the multitude of colours left behind.
As the newly exposed bark slowly ages, it changes from bright green to a darker green, then bluish to purplish, and then pink-orange. Finally, the colour becomes a brownish maroon right before exfoliation occurs. Since this process is happening in different zones of the trunk and in different stages, simultaneously, the colours are varied and almost constantly changing. As a result, the tree will never have the same colour pattern twice, making it like a work of living art. (LariAnn Garner, Under the Rainbow)
In a culture saturated with entertainment, social media and advertising, it is easy to become intoxicated with the ‘beautiful things’ depicted on our screens. We compare our everyday lives to the images of beauty, success, wealth or fame, easily forgetting that often what we see is filtered, contrived or carefully controlled. As we try to live up to other people’s seemingly perfect lives, we can find ourselves dissatisfied and disillusioned. Our unique experiences can become overshadowed and we find that we have lost the clarity of our purpose along the way.
What if we could shift our gaze for just a moment and take a gentle, compassionate look at what is right in front of us? The colour and beauty of the lives around us are so much richer than the superficial images that constantly demand our attention.
Consider the Rainbow Eucalyptus.
The beauty of these trees is not superficial, or hastily attained. The magnificent beauty of their colourful trunks is in the layers of growth as they mature. The growth of the tree is affected by the conditions of the surrounding environment. Seasons come and go, both the battering of wind and rain and then the relief of the sun heralding new growth. Roots delve deep, searching out water and clambering for nutrients. Branches take on shape as they search out the light. The old layers shed regularly but cautiously, not afraid to make way for the new, but not leaving the tree vulnerable or overexposed. The new bark starts out raw and fresh and bright, but doesn’t remain as it is.
Just like a life well lived, the colours of the new bark mature into much deeper colours. No tree ever stays the same and no tree is the same as another. Each tree matures in its own way, uniquely beautiful, adding its distinctive pattern of colour to the forest of trees it sits alongside – each one “a work of living art”.
What if we looked at our own lives in the same way?
Take a moment to consider the uniqueness of your life. What are the experiences that have created your unique colours? What beauty do you bring to the world that isn’t found in an Instagram snap or a flashy holiday album?
What about the people around you? When was the last time you looked someone in the eye and asked them, “So what’s your story?” and really listened to who they are away from their Facebook feed.
What steps could you take to shift your gaze? You may be surprised at the colours you find.