Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – February 7, 2004
The Stronger The Wind – The Stronger The Tree
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – February 7, 2004 – I’m not sure if this saying is attributed to a famous person or if it has simply become an accepted maxim because it has the ring of truth – similar to an urban legend. But it’s thought-provoking and I like it – “The stronger the wind – the stronger the tree”.
I spent a very enjoyable evening in my back yard a couple of years ago with my friend Kent, who is an arborist and a landscaper. I have a very private city garden behind my home with a wonderful grape ivy that spills down from the lattice at the top of the fence. About ten years ago I planted a ‘hornbeam’ tree in one corner, close to the house.
My understanding from the garden centre where I bought it, was that the tree would grow to be about ten to twelve feet high. It has pretty catkins in the spring and deep green leaves. The tree is now about twenty-five feet high and shows no appreciable signs of slowing down in its quest to reach the sky. It is however – too close to my house – and its branches are being forced to grow at odd angles as they come in contact with the side of the wall and the high wooden fence of my garden. This doesn’t appear to be bothering the tree in the least.
As Kent and I sat and chatted about said tree he reached up and bent one of the lower branches, and commented that the tree hadn’t grown particularly strong because the proximity to the house and the fence provided shelter for it when the wind was strong. I’d never really thought about this, but it made perfect sense.
As a tree grows, it needs to be challenged by the elements in order to become flexible yet strong. I think of all the times I’ve sat in my office looking out at the trees in the lane during a driving rain storm. The high branches sway madly in the wind while the trunk remains steady and true.
What a beautiful analogy for a life well lived. When I reflect upon my life, I wonder what I would be like as a woman, if it weren’t for the challenges that I’ve faced and overcome. Who would I be if I’d never had my heart broken – not lost a dear brother to a drunk driver – never been ill – not conquered a debilitating depression – never been terminated unjustly from a job – not had the courage to make a major career change – not been forced by circumstances to buy a house on my own and make it into a home – never said a final farewell to both my parents when they passed from this life – never lost a friendship – never loved someone who didn’t feel the same way about me and never taken a risk when the outcome held no guarantee of success?
Like most of us – I’m still governed by my fears to some degree – but fortunately I’ve been buffeted enough by the storms of life that a strong wind can’t damage my essential core strength. I’m sufficiently flexible to sway when I’m broadsided by life and strong enough to fight when I need to.
If not for the painful experiences that have proven to be my greatest allies, I would be like the hornbeam tree in my back yard – tall and willowy but lacking a backbone. So I guess its true – “the stronger the wind – the stronger the tree”. I wouldn’t have it any other way and I wouldn’t forego the experiences that have made me the person I’ve become.
Life teaches us its lessons in strange, painful and wonderful ways, and recognizing the wisdom of these experiences is what gives the soul its light and the heart its compassion. I’m grateful for the adversity I’ve lived through and content that I can tell the tale without being sad or bitter. The next time you’re challenged by life – why not look for the lesson – be thankful for the teacher – and remember – “the stronger the wind – the stronger the tree”.