The Difference Between a Boulder & a Tree

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There is a boulder and a tree in a windblown valley. The boulder won’t tell you that it is windy. It will look the same whether it is still or howling. The tree will tell you. Its branches and leaves move the moment they are rustled by the wind. Its trunk will bend over time as a constant reminder of the prevailing wind.

The boulder is imposing and unapproachable. In being seemingly unaffected by its surroundings, it is soli- tary. It is seemingly protected from circumstance, but at a cost.

The tree plays no such game. No mask, no hiding. It readily discloses the current conditions, shows their effects in the present, as well as the effects of the past.

We have a choice each morning to approach each day as a boulder or a tree. The boulder protects, but only for a time. The tree engages fully with the life going on around it and chooses to be affected by it and in doing so, has an effect on others.

There are days when you will need to be a boulder to survive. Some news is too difficult to share right away, some people should not be trusted with your story, some circumstances are just for enduring and making it through.

But living only to survive is not a sustainable way of life in the long term. Most days you will have an hon- est choice between engagement and apathy. You aren’t facing dire circumstances but it is easier to float through a routine than it is to intentionally live. Make the choice early and often to intentionally live on those days. It will cost you more, but your only regrets will be due to actions taken and bets made that didn’t go your way – instead of regretting doing nothing at all.

Spring is a time of new beginnings. You have survived Winter, now it is time to thrive in Spring. The world seems to perk up a bit with newfound energy as the temperatures rise and the ground thaws. It is the per- fect time to commit to living and not just surviving.

Action Steps for Living:

  • Go to the farmer’s market and ask to hear the farmer’s story.
  • Give yourself 30 minutes each day to finish the book you’ve been wanting to read but haven’t made the time for yet.
  • Invite a friend to coffee that you haven’t seen in too long but have been thinking about lately. 
  • Call your parents or your children – engage with another generation.
  • Smell the flowers as the bloom – literally.

There’s one more thing about the boulder and the tree. The boulder, as protected and unaffected as it appears today, is just as affected by its windy circumstances as the tree is. It just takes longer for it to show. While the wind buffets the bending tree, its effects obvious, the boulder is slowly and imperceptibly being reshaped by the wind. It won’t show today, but it will show eventually. One day, the wind will push the boul- der down the valley, into another boulder, and it will break.

Wind and the circumstances of life affect everyone and everything. Putting up a shield and pretending it has no such effect won’t change anything – but it will make the ending more dramatic.

Allow yourself to be affected by life and have your effect on it as well. We will all be better because of it.

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