Once, on a lovely open plain, there was an ash tree and another tree. They started out next to each other, but as they grew their branches and leaves reached to each other and intertwined. The rains trickled down to the trunks and then to their roots, which were also entwined. The trees would bend in the northwest winds, the branches of each holding the other up. Together they held and protected birds and other creatures that nested in and around them. To look at them you wouldn’t know where one tree ended and the other began.
One day a lumberjack came. He noticed the ash tree would be good for carving, but the other would not. It took him quite a while to decide how best to cut the ash tree and still leave the other, but he finally succeeded. Along with the trunk he took as many of the ash’s branches as he could, but cut off the entwined ones, leaving them for the other tree to drop and the wind to take away.
The other tree grieved the loss of her friend. Where the ash had once stood, protecting and holding her, she was now exposed and weak. She closed her own branches tightly around the ash’s branches. In defiance of the winds and rains she held on to what was left of her friend, but eventually the ash’s branches grew brittle, and their rattling in the wind only served to remind her of her loss. Finally, one by one, her tears mixing with wind and rain, she let the ash’s dead branches fall.
But though she couldn’t see it, a wonderful thing was happening. As she let go of the dead branches, her own branches were growing stronger in the wind and rain. Her weaker side was filling out.
She had been so focused on the ash’s branches, thinking they would keep her strong. What she didn’t realize is there was still life for her from the ash’s roots. Air and nutrients flowed into her own roots, allowing them to flourish. By letting the dead branches go, she was able to grow in new directions, nourished by the memories of her friend.
Loss is inevitable and painful but the joy of the having is worth it, along with the memory it leaves behind.
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