I was gazing out my window this morning, a beautiful spring morning, and noticed the tiny leaves that were emerging on the big oak tree in my front yard. It struck me in that moment that even the long-established and long living oak tree goes through periods of change and growth each year. This put in my mind a very tangible and everyday link to the notion that if we stop growing, we really do stop living.
I often wear a necklace that sports an acorn and an oak leaf. I purchased this piece of jewelry on a trip last fall with my husband. At the time I was reading a Wayne Dyer book that was describing the power of intention using the illustration of an acorn that had really struck a chord with me. I was settling into the notion that what we are to do and become in our life is already inside of each of us, just as the mighty oak is inside the acorn. If you plant the acorn, you will always get an oak tree; not a maple or an elm.
So the challenge for us is to figure out what it is that we are meant to do or be. What is the mighty oak inside of us? Finding the right answer is not always an easy task as we are buffeted about in our lives by social dictates and expectations. I think many of us lose the sense of wonder that comes with possibility thinking when we hunker down into our lives and do the expected. Remember when you were a kid? You thought that you could be or do anything! How awesome was that?
That’s not to say that life does not require a bit of practicality. To be sure we do need to feed, house and clothe ourselves. But I would challenge you; do we have to give up our own happiness to do so? Could we not find a way to do something that not only makes us happy but also provides for our needs?
Back to the oak tree and the new growth of baby leaves…. I believe in life we also have to continue to do things that make us grow. Sometimes the tree experiences brutal weather that knocks off its branches and strips its leaves. But come spring, the tree once again sends out its new foliage and continues with life; adding new rings to its center.
So too in life, we get battered about by situations and circumstances beyond our control. We live through things that we could not have imagined. We survive what we might previously have considered the impossible. And though tumultuous times leave us weary and even sometimes scarred, they also add to our ‘rings’; our life experience and our human character. We become deeper and more complex with each new challenge that we overcome. And those newly found pieces of our character send out new growth, allowing us to be somebody a bit new and changed in some way.
I look back at my life and determine that even the things that have happened that I would not have intentionally chosen, are things that on this side I would not choose to give back. The things that I have learned and the ways that I have grown in going through them make me a better person today! They are experiences that have enriched my character in ways that allow me now to share and support others in their times of challenge and growth. And because I have had the experiences, I can come from a place of genuine understanding; changed by the rings that have been left on my core.
If you are in the middle of a storm in your life, please remember that, though you may be battered and lose some branches, you will come through the other side. And the leaves that emerge in your spring will just be testament to the ways that you have grown through your experience.
The mighty oak, an acorn and baby leaves; symbols of living life…….
On the journey with you…….Kathy