While I was out walking this morning I was reminded of the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in my neighborhood in New Jersey. While the homes in Jackson were largely unscathed there was a tremendous loss of trees. As I saw these majestic, very large trees fallen onto the forest floor I noticed something fascinating. Those trees that had not withstood the storm had very shallow root systems, roots that were unable to sustain the size of the tree when the storm hit. I asked my husband why such large trees in this area had not grown significant root systems. His answer was revealing to me. He said that because there was so much rainfall in Jackson, the soil was always moist and the trees did not have to grow deep roots to get nourished.
This made me think about how this applied to us as individually as people, in our relationships with others and in our working life on an emotional level. I could see some parallels and messages. As with these trees, when life is good we tend to forge forwards and upwards without even thinking. Life is good so why question it? The question is, if the storms of life hit us will we be able to withstand them?
It appears from the illustration of the fallen trees that those trees whose ground is not so fertile have had to grow their roots very deep in order to reach the water. Could it be that trials or difficulties cause us as humans to do the same? It is in the face of difficulties that we have to dig deep within ourselves for the resources to overcome, to get through them. Each time that we face and overcome a difficulty successfully, it results in greater confidence in our abilities and the beginnings of a tool box to deal with the next trials. Our difficulties then are part of our preparation for future trials. The ‘roots’ of our emotional self-reliance grow stronger and more secure.
Society is constantly sending us messages to try and find the easy way out of everything, to cushion the blows. We are in a society where we try and medicate all of our pain, not just physical but emotional too. In our parenting, many are trying to wrap their children in cotton wool to protect them from all harm. Are we in fact doing these children more harm by preventing them from having growing experiences; preventing them from learning from their mistakes by trying to create the perfect environment? How can we, our children, our husbands and wives know that we can withstand a real storm in our lives if we keep protecting ourselves along the way?
I am not suggesting that we allow children to walk freely on the road or place themselves purposely in harm’s way. I am not even suggesting that we invite hard times or difficulties. Life will do that all by itself without our additional help. I am suggesting that we teach ourselves and those we love to walk into the fear, to walk into the trials without turning sideways or running away. Just imagine how strong as a people we would be if we let this happen!