Monday, September 1, 2008

The Tree of Life

As I was sitting on my deck, sipping iced tea while my husband grilled baby back ribs, yesterday afternoon, a storm quickly approached from the South.
The wind suddenly increased, ruffling the green mane of the trees in the woods behind my house, and the sweet scent of rain quickly permeated the air.
I sat back and watched the trees gently dancing; somehow I thought of the time when Hurricane Fran unexpectedly came into Raleigh, and I remembered the staggering amount of trees that bowed in its presence. At the time, I lived in a house situated under the shady umbrella of a large Poplar, and I held my breath while Fran came through, hoping the tree would not fall and slice my house like a birthday cake.
Thankfully, the Poplar didn’t fall; however, as I was able to assess the next morning during a brief walk in the neighborhood, many other trees hadn’t been as blessed, and were now sadly laying on the ground, some of them resting over roofs and cars.
The thing that struck me at the time was that most of the fallen trees were larger ones, but I think I was too overwhelmed with the whole situation to give that minor detail any further thought.
As I sat on my deck yesterday, however, that scene came back into mind, and it quickly correlated to the attitudes people assume as they walk through life.
Some, like the larger trees, remain rigidly in their position, ready to defy the approaching storm, and prepared to stand their ground. When the storms are of low to medium intensity they are able to stand proudly, barely allowing the winds to ruffle their hair. Yet, when hit by a particularly strong storm, the rigid and apparently powerful posture becomes their curse, and often leads to sure death and uprooting.
The smaller, thinner trees don’t tower over anything, and they are certainly not impressive as they are violently thrust in the powerful winds. Yet, after the storm, most of them are still standing, and are able to thrive on the nourishment provided by the decomposition of the demised larger trees. Their smaller stature has allowed them to follow the wind, rather than fight it. Similarly, people who keep an open mind, and are able to sway with the currents of change, are going to be the ones who will stand at the end of the storm. Flexibility will ensure their survival.
Life moves like quicksilver, and we constantly have to adjust to different fads, trends, and ideas; although it is good to maintain our focus on those elements that have sustained our survival through the ages, it is also important to realize that everything evolves. By sticking too rigidly to thoughts and ideals that no longer fit the current need, we fail to serve ourselves and the rest of society.
It is in our greater interest to allow ourselves to be flexible enough when the storms come, and not solely rely on the strength of our roots.
Then, maybe, we will still be here after the storms have finally cleared.

1 comment:

Elaine Luddy Klonicki said...

Sandra, you make a good point. And I love the analogy. Flexibility is also a sign of good mental health, as it allows us to deal with new situations most effectively.