Who Can You Count On?
Updated: Dec 7, 2020
We count on trees for so many things. Shade. A foundation for our treehouse. Clean air. A home for the animals. Trees are steady. Trees lean on no one else. They stand proud and strong all on their own. They are dependable. Maybe we can learn a thing or two about life from our trees.
How can you be the most dependable person you know - for yourself?
A tree stands strong against the elements from all sides. Under the right, basic conditions, it takes care of its own needs. So be like a tree and have your back. We love those friends who know just the right thing to say when we are feeling terrible. I have one friend who just brings the right food and watches me eat while I say nothing at all. Some will be the last ones cheering when you run across the finish line last. Some will defend you in the presence of others, or show their unconditional support. Instead of waiting for others to do this, have your own back. Take care of yourself. Realize that you have the power to tell yourself whatever you need most to improve your outlook and withstand the storm. And don't ask permission to break out the comfort foods.
Just like leaves that change and adapt to the expected and the unexpected, showing off a little color and beauty with each new day, trees learn to adapt. And start all over again when spring comes around. So be like a tree and be prepared to adapt. Life does not stay the same. It can't. It shouldn't. We change. We learn, or sometimes, repeat mistakes, from one year to the next. And Lord knows we age. And that is the beauty of life. When we accept that we find great freedom. Show off your changing leaves. Let them go. Find new ways to grow when the season changes once again.
A tornado blows down a whole town but miraculously, there is a tree, still standing among the debris. We, too, can learn to weather a storm and be brave enough to stand alone, physically or emotionally. To show enough strength to live by your choices without blame, and make them confidently on your own terms. To be responsible for how you feel, and honest about ways in which those feelings are hurting you. To be willing to ask yourself the really hard questions each day so that you can be precisely the person you want to be, standing proud even if you are the only one who believes in something, or the only one who stands against the tide. After a tornado, there are also trees blown down. That is not weakness, but a graceful surrender to more powerful forces. How graceful are you when it is time to stop fighting, or time to walk away? Be like a tree and find your strength to do what is best for you.
Reach out. Just like a tree with branches that stretch out, reaching out to a social circle for guidance is absolutely a part of being self-reliant. Self-reliant does not mean you must do it alone. It means you can do it on your own, if needed, but you aren't too afraid to ask for help, too. You have to believe that you can do anything alone, but take comfort in the fact that you never have to. Social connections are not measured by how many you have but how meaningful they are. Support and enjoy those most meaningful parts of your network. Like branches, they will grow stronger each year.
The giant sequoias here in California are amazing. Aside from their immense size and stature, they absolutely refuse to be felled by disaster. When there is a forest fire or other environmental stressor, the giant tree develops a burl - a permanent battle scar that is proof of the struggle it overcame to still be standing there. We all have battle scars from a life lived. Physical and emotional pain we have endured. Disappointments and sadness we have had to bear. Inconveniences and daily problems that chip away at our happiness as we try to keep going. And yet here we are, still standing, like that tree.
Our success and progress can and should belong to not the kindness or strength of others, but the kindness and strength and steadiness we have shown to ourselves. Our own steady words or leadership. Our own capacity to adjust and problem-solve, to take care of business. To take care of ourselves in the process. And if we can't point to our own actions as proof of our self-reliance, we need to start asking ourselves why. Why have we let ourselves down? Why do we accept letting ourselves down? And what are we going to do about it?
Have your back. Adapt. Be strong enough to stand alone, or surrender. Reach out and connect. Accept your burls from a life well-lived. And when the times are rough, remind yourself again and again - who can you count on? The answer should be really easy - YOU.