This post was inspired by Writer’s Quote Wednesday hosted by Silver Threading and our backyard Willow tree. For my willow story, pictures, and quotes about surviving life challenges, please read on.
A new tree suddenly appeared in our backyard last year. It emerged out of a pocket of tall marsh grasses. ‘What a pleasant surprise’, we said–‘a new tree with leaves!’ Being surrounded by rugged conifers, a leafy deciduous tree is like a long lost friend. It grew rapidly, developing multiple slender trunks and tall long branches with slender leaves. I snapped pictures but got nowhere with identification.
This year, the tree’s growth was so rapid that we started to become concerned– it was growing out of a slope next to the septic tank and bed. Roots can damage drainage systems. It all seems obvious when the story is related now, but in the moment ‘reality’ dawned slowly. We called in the septic people to pump out the tank and to seek advice…they told us the tree was probably a kind of willow and should be removed as willow roots tend to encroach.
Wikipedia says that the Willow genus consists of 400 species of deciduous trees and shrubs. The leaves of some willow species look similar to ours so I am now convinced that our young tree is some kind of willow. Unfortunately the tree will have to go. I have started mowing surrounding grasses and pruning off the long slender branches. Someone else–not I–will wield a saw and cut through the thicker trunks.
In honour of the willow, who sadly must go, I looked into willow symbolism and sayings. A theme of strength and resilience caught my attention. Willows stand firmly rooted yet their slender flexible branches bend in the wind–a desirable quality noted by Confucious:
“The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.” Confucious
I like the way Wayne Dyer explains the benefits of being “resilient, elastic, and pliant” when faced with major challenges:
“When powerful forces push you in any direction, bow rather than fight, lean rather than break, and allow yourself to be free of a rigid set of rules–in doing so, you’ll be preserved and unbroken.” Wayne Dyer, Wayne’s Blog: ‘Bend, Don’t Break, with the Wind’
Truth holds many contradictions. The wisdom of bending in a storm, captured from observing supple trees such as willows and palm trees, confronts an equally important truth– that we must stand tall and be true to ourselves. If we are too flexible, we may have no personality, focus, or standards–on the other hand, if we are too rigid we can miss the flow of life or life itself. I just discovered this quote by Eartha Kitt which seems to go for the feeling of being true to ourselves while bending or following the flow: