I will never forget the day that someone looked at me…as I was playing with my camera…and said, “You know…they say you can really tell what someone loves in life by what they take pictures of. Some people take a lot of pictures of people. And then there’s you…and trees.” 😆 Touche. I deserved that. Lol
I’ve always had a love affair with trees. <insert loving wood joke here> Trees are a phenomenal part of nature. They offer us shade…they offer us shelter…they offer us warmth…and they are so resilient. Take a walk through the forest and you can see a million ways that trees survive and thrive, even as they protect those living creatures beneath them and in them.
But the first tree I loved…the first tree I considered mine…was a weeping willow in the front yard when I was a little girl. I loved to hide under this tree, with one of my beloved books. I felt safe. Even as this tree “weeped” around me, it protected me. And it stayed…as so few things do…it survived storms that other trees could never survive, as it bent with the storm and survived…rather than futilely resisting and finally snapping. This soft…malleable…freely weeping tree…couldn’t be taken down…while the trees around it…the trees that seemed so strong…were more easily snapped in two.
I’ve been thinking about that tree today, as I pondered another situation.
I told my boyfriend this morning. I remember…all the way back to childhood…these days where I would wake up…hurt by whatever situation at the time…and I would think. “Today. Starting today, I don’t want to be the nice girl anymore. Mean people get so much further. I’m going to start being like them. Today is the day.” I was resolute…I set out…I was going to lose my “softness” that people took advantage of. Never again would I smile…and be hurt. And then….an hour later I’d realize I didn’t even make it off the bus without smiling at someone and finding a way to make someone laugh. I didn’t even make it out of class before I wanted to hug a friend. I just never had it in me.
No matter what life has thrown at me, I stayed soft. No matter how many reasons to give up on people I was given, I still loved. No matter how many times I decided I’d never trust again, I saw the best.
I’ve been called malleable…too nice…I’ve been considered easy to manipulate…too easily forgiving…too slow to walk away…I’ve been called it all.
And they’re not wrong. I will never be hard like an oak. I will never stand tall like a pine in the forest.
I am a willow.
Like the willow…my emotions overflow from my bendable branches.
Like the willow, I envelope those in my perimeter.
Like the willow, I give you a place to lay your worries and seek refuge.
And like the willow…I may be seen as weak, but it is my very nature of staying soft that gives me a strength to endure.