Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Healthy Tree

Since living on my own, both before and after getting married, I have rarely had any sort of landscaping to tend. Prior to St. Louis, the only yard work I can bring to mind was the occasional tree trimming and weeding in Albuquerque. However, here in St. Louis we have a fairly decent size yard, a tree, plenty of lawn, bushes, and even neatly planted flowers. (Yes, unfortunately plenty of weeds, along with the type of vegetation that is borderline weed/flower.) The tree is one of the more perturbing items in the landscape. First, the roots look to pose a mowing challenge. Second, based on the shells near it, it is a walnut tree. Finally, it is constantly shedding branches as the wind picks up. In all, aside from the shade, I'd almost rather it not be present.

Yet, at the same time, one of those frustrations also brought a thought recently. As I was collecting the various sticks from a recent wind storm, I thought, “For looking so healthy it sure drops a lot of branches.” I say healthy because it is budding and regrowing it's leaves, despite the shifting weather patterns (I am writing this mid-March as we go from snow to 70s in less than a week.) As I contemplated this thought, I realized perhaps it was wrong. Previously, I have mentioned I tend to have a view of the glass as half empty with a hole in the bottom. Hence my automatic assumption that something must be wrong for it to be dropping branches.

However, my thoughts shifted to the half full side, with the reason that perhaps the dropped branches are why it appears healthy. In a sort of natural pruning the tree sheds unproductive and unnecessary branches. Occasionally there is the stubborn limb which refuses to let go, even during a stiff wind. That is when I or someone else come along with sheers. We eliminate the branch not just for the sake of the tree but also for the sake of those existing around it. My son playing beneath the precariously suspended branches, oblivious to the potential danger, is one example. Of course, there are instances where too many healthy limbs are removed. This happens through storms and overzealous or inexperienced pruners. Sometimes the tree is able to recover and grow it's limbs back. If this happens, it can look lopsided or disfigured. Unfortunately, there are times when the damage is too severe, such as with lightning or tornadoes, and the tree cannot regrow.

As you read this, I am hoping the parallel between the tree and humans is clear. While outward appearance is hardly a tell for inward health (we humans are expert masks wearers), when we spend enough time with someone we know when they are healthy. While this can be applied to many aspects of health, such as physical, spiritual, financial, emotional, and mental, I am currently referring to mental and emotional health. The one who knows how to let go of life's dead-weight is usually the healthiest and most free. This dead-weight can include various types of rejections, failures, hurts, poor relationships, et al. As we are in close proximity to these healthy individuals and see them dropping things like these out of their lives and creating boundaries, we may think, “They look healthy but sure drop a lot of junk.”

Just like those trees, perhaps that is why they are healthy. I think my wife is a great example of this. She has spent years setting up boundaries, not as a way to escape but as a way to stay healthy. Unfortunately I have not, so she helps me. I have harbored a lot of resentment from my past (which I seriously strive to not allow to show in my writing.) I also have hurt and anger in there. Whether from life itself, autism, or whatever, I am dealing with these issues. And though my dear wife is resuming her studies to be a psychologist (go her!), I need a professional. Therefore I am trying another therapist to aide with my disorder and life problems. You may recall the last one ended up turning the tables and helping himself with what I said more than him helping me. That had the effect of an inexperienced (or inept) tree pruner. I stopped going to meetings with him, and let the winds of life batter me some more. Thankfully Casey didn't give up on me and has encouraged me to try another therapist. I have only had two sessions so far, so I cannot make an assessment yet. At the very least she didn't seem to be helping herself!

As this became more long-winded (pun definitely intended) than originally planned, here is a summation, aka TL;DR. 1. Healthy trees drop dead branches. 2. Healthy trees can also be helped by nature and humans in shedding branches. 3. Sometimes those forces can do more harm than good. 4. Trees can be a metaphor for humans and counseling. 5. I'm returning to counseling, prayers, etc. appreciated!


Christie said...

Awesome! I think everyone could benefit from a good counselor. Finding a good counselor, with the right fit for you can be challenging. I hope this one works out for you!

Karl said...

Ditto, I hope so too!