Recently I read a post over on Monkeytraps, ‘Human Treeings‘. Referring to attitudes towards control, Steve said:

Hurricane Irene swept through here the other day, reminding me of a conversation I’ve had with many clients over many years.

“Let’s say you’re a tree, and a hurricane is coming,” I say. “ Which would you rather be, an oak or a birch?”

The oak versus birch question was refering specifically to attitudes towards control: do you stand firm against a problem, but possibly be knocked down (oak), or do you flex to accommodate the problem and then bounce back? That got me thinking, and, seeing as Hurricane Maria swirled past here today, I thought I’d write a post about the tree I’d be.


My answer to Steve’s question would be, a palm tree. I’m not sure what Steve would have to say about me wanting to choose a different tree altogether…

Watching a palm tree in a storm makes me marvel: at the first breeze, the leaves rustle and dance elegantly, more alive. As the wind picks up, the whole trunk begins to sway, and the leaves are swept away from the wind. In this way, nothing is damaged and once the wind drops, the palm tree will look picture perfect again. On the other hand, if the wind strengthens even more, its second defense comes into action: its leaves will rip off. Perhaps no longer elegant, but by reducing its surface area and resitance, the tree becomes a javelin and is barely be buffetted by the wind. After the wind dies down, the new leaves, protected by the hard sheath in the centre of the crown, can unfurl. Then slowly but surely, as the sun comes out again, the palm tree will be living vigorously and growing once again.

In direct relation to Steve’s analogy, the palm tree is like the birch: being flexible and accommodating the problem, then bouncing back and being resilient. I’m not saying I am the palm tree or have its qualities (at the moment I feel like a sickly little seedling scuffed off the edge of the path under some dark leaves, but trying its utmost best to bat its way up and through those dark leaves to reach up to the light and become stronger), but it’s what I’d like to be:

  • I’d like to be able to float on my experiences, take them in my stride and enjoy them elegantly.
  • I’d like to be able to be flexible and bend if an experience begins to be troubling.
  • I’d like to have backup plans, and second lines of defense. Just like a palm tree will loose its leaves, I’d like to be able to shed my excess activities and unnecessary responsibilities, knowing that I’ll be able to develop new ones when the future’s calmer, and in the meantime they can be adopted and enjoyed by others (not wanting to draw a direct correspondence between the bugs and grubs that will recycle the leaves as energy and shelter for themselves…but the idea is there!)
  • I’d like to be sure that while my heart is protected, it’s never so tightly packed away it can never open up agai.
  • Best of all, palm trees always look their best in clusters or shoulder to shoulder, they’re rarely lonely.
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