Friday, November 20, 2009

Real Life Tao - Trees in the Wind

As I've indicated over the past few days, we've been dealing with some stormy weather here. This weather, however, has provided me with an abject lesson in Taoist principles. Such lessons are available to each of us in the routine mundaneness of every day life...if we are open to seeing what is right there in front of us.

Behind my house are several majestic trees. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not particularly adept at estimating the size of things, but one of my neighbors thinks that these evergreens are nearly 100 feet tall.

During our fierce windstorms here on the coast, the wind can be quite savage. It's not uncommon for gusts to reach 50, 60, 70 or more miles per hour. The sound of it blowing through the forest is akin to a freight train!!

What amazes me time and time again is that these giant trees have weathered so many storms. When the wind is at its fiercest, these mighty trees bend in ways I would not think possible. They shiver as if to shake off old man winter. They often look like they are within a breath of breaking in two, yet, between the strong gusts, they return to their upright position.

What saves them and allows them to flourish is their ability to be flexible.

Standing at the base of one of these giants, they look anything but flexible! Their massive trunks appear rock solid and, if someone decided to cut one down with a hand axe, it would literally take a good deal of time. Yet, when storms roll in, they less resemble strong rigid objects and move and behave more like Gumby.

This is an apt lesson in survival for each of us. Too often, we look at flexibility as being the opposite of strength. However, it's possible to be strong AND flexible -- to stand tall when circumstances dictate and to be flexible when circumstances change. If any of these trees only possessed one of these attributes, not a one of them would have survived for as long as they have.

This post is part of a series. For an introduction, go here.


  1. how very true! and yet we should not imitate trees in all respects. when trees do get cut down, or blow down, they fall stiff and straight making a tremendous racket. so when you fail in life don't be a tree. ;) be a pillow, or something.

  2. Unless your insane tree-hating neighbors go at them with a chain saw.

  3. Great post!

    In fact, I often think that it is impossible to be strong without flexibility. That's true even in sports.

    On a different issue. Husband and I will spend Christmas at Copalis Beach, near Ocean Shores.

    You're not too far from there, I think. Question, will we see lots of rain?

    I'm thinking that since we live on the coast here, probably the weather there will be similar. We will see.

  4. Iktomi,
    They don't always fall stiff and straight. Haven't you watched one of those series on cable about loggers? :)

    They better not do that or I'll be mad.

    Been to Copalis Beach many a time! Other than a few houses and a resort or two, there is little civilization there -- just miles of ocean and lots of trees. My kind of place!!

    Rain? December is the wettest month on the SW Washington Coast. We receive over 1 foot of it in those 31 days -- sometimes it even comes down in the form of snow and ice.

  5. Hey! It will be a cozy Christmas, then. We will be at a resort.

    Better start packing all the rain gear :)

    Signing up with another blog. This one is more upclose and personal.

  6. Oh, but they did. Working through my own madness/anger.


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