Tree Watching Project: Men (and Women) as Trees
November 6, 2012
“Men are like trees, each one must put forth the leaf that is created in him.”
Henry Ward Beecher
“I give dates because I am a date tree. Not everyone likes dates. I tire of them, too. I would like to give oranges, pomegranates, or coconuts. But I don’t happen to grow anything but dates, unfortunately.”
— Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Against Wind and Tide: Letters and Journals 1947 – 1986
“But at the same time, those same two qualities — knowing that we have within us something that marks each of us in a special way and that this quality has been given to use for some reason greater than ourselves — are the essence of coming to wholeness. The task of determining what that quality is and what to do with it is the single great work of being alive.”
— Joan Chittister, Following the Path: The Search for a Life of Passion, Purpose, and Joy
“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”
— e. e. cummings
“Am I still the person I have spent a lifetime becoming, and do I still want to be that person?”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom
“Here we stop saying, ‘Well, that’s just the way I am,’ and begin to say, ‘There is more that I can be.’ “
— Joan Chittister, Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today
I love these quotes because they make me think. How much of who I am is “God-given” and how much can I control? When I see my mother in me, or see similar mannerisms and qualities among my eight siblings (stubborn, opinionated, among them), then I know that nature and nurture have perhaps irredeemably shaped large parts of my being. The leaf does not fall far from the tree!
Looked at that way, the challenge is to develop my talents and tendencies to bring out the best rather than the worst. To make what can be only my unique contribution to the world. To champion differences rather than pressure others to fit into my comfort zone.
And yet, there must be a large dose of choice at work. Can I choose to become a better person, to overcome my faults, to grow into the person I am meant to be? Can I choose a new path, regardless of my age? What leaves can I bring forth, and with what vigor?