One Photo Story

The Process of Growth




I came across these three trees, perfectly situated next to each other, while having a somewhat dreary walk. I’m not generally philosophical, but it was mid-December, and Taylor Swift’s folklore was on repeat, so did I have a choice?

We think we’ve got it all figured out before we face sorrow, loss, doubt, or just plain perplexity about ourselves and the world we’ve built around us. We meticulously organize every detail of our life, and we feel virtually complete. When life’s hidden surprises (both good and bad) are finally revealed, we are suddenly stripped of everything we thought we understood about ourselves and the world. We feel unworthy, as if we have nothing worthwhile to contribute. We have a sense of being exposed. We begin to reflect about a period when we felt whole and alive. We begin to worry if things are always going to be this way. Tree #2 can only look back and see how much fuller she felt, but she can’t see forward, even if what’s standing next to her is a better version of herself, one she didn’t realize was possible. When I snapped this picture, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much tree #2 spoke to me.

In truth, no matter how awful or robbed we feel at any one time, there is always the opportunity to grow. Not only is Tree #3 fuller than the first two, but it is also stronger and more certain. You wouldn’t imagine that the same tree could yield more leaves than the first time around, but it can. It began to thrive.

Moral of the story: Don’t lose sight of how much growth you’re capable of.
Also, don’t listen to Taylor Swift while taking a walk. She’ll make you feel things and that never ends well.


Joelle Al Cheikh

I like to find meaning in things. For a long time, I sought meaning in the greater things; my career, my friends, and the world I’ve created around me. It wasn’t until I was stripped of that did I realise that meaning can be found outside myself, and photography can help capture it. Art is all around us, and it’s up to us to give it meaning.

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