Trees teach us the critical components of success in life:
Roots are a metaphor for our support network; for our home base.
No tree can survive and grow without nurturing and anchoring roots. The emotional sustenance provided to us by our parents in our early, formative years are our roots. Like a gardener watering a sapling, our parents nourish us with their love and nurturing. They cultivate the foundations that anchor our lives, and their validation infuses us with self confidence.
Don’t be deceived: Some people might look like mighty trees — we may look very accomplished — but when you cut below the surface you may discover roots that are very weak, or negligible, almost nonexistent. What happens if a person is lacking roots, or the roots are compromised? It’s like a tree that is lacking the nourishment necessary for its survival. Without healthy roots we end up starving for love, which in turn effects virtually every aspect of our lives. Why? Everything needs a root. To be secure in life, you must be loved and nurtured. You must know that you come from somewhere and that you’re embedded in a strong and grounded network of ancestors. Your roots are your emotional and spiritual sustenance. For a tree to bear fruit, it must have solid roots and a strong trunk. If the roots begin to deteriorate, the rest of the tree will also deteriorate.
The fascinating thing about roots is that even though the roots are beneath the ground, the roots are also the reason that the tree grows. Majestic trees grow outward with free abandon, but they always know that they have deep roots, that they are grounded. They say that the only thing that grows in two directions at once is a tree: The roots grow downward as the tree grows upward. Even though the roots are not visible to the naked eye and don’t seem so obvious, they are like the foundation of a building. Its solid foundation allows it to grow.
Think of it this way: A bird first needs a protective nest before it can fly. When you have a nest to come back to, you have the confidence to fly securely — your confidence has been built up by the nurturing it received at its nest. People who don’t have a nest might look like they are flying, and they might actually fly, but they are not flying securely. A very secure person has the license and liberty to explore. The greatest explorers are the ones that are fearless, but fearlessness comes with security.
Integrity: The tree trunk is a metaphor for unwavering solidity.
While (often underground) roots are the indispensable foundation of a tree, which allow it to grow upward and outward, a tree also has a solid trunk above ground. Trees are known for their solidity. A strong tree does not get destroyed in a storm. It sways, but it stands. The firm tree trunk reflects our solid, unwavering values; our integrity:
- What do you believe in?
- What is your purpose in life?
- What are boundaries that you will not cross?
- In what areas of life are you reliable, and in what areas of life are you spontaneous? Does your spontaneity need to be balanced by reliability, or vice versa?
Growth: The deeper the roots, the greater the fruits.
When we have healthy roots and solid values, we then grow, Growth is the ultimate expression of a successful life, one that does not remain standing, but is always growing and spreading out.
Growth also includes bearing fruit. What is the beauty and power of a fruit? Perpetuity. The fruit, via its seeds’ germination and growth, becomes forever. Fruits have perennial impact. The seed bears a fruit, and the fruit in turn bears seeds, which then bears more fruit, ad infinitum. Fruits give you a taste of eternity.
Fruit defines our eternal impact as humans. In our life journey we have the opportunity to plant seeds wherever we go, through our kind words and good deeds. You may have said something to someone 10 years ago, and then you hear that your words bore fruit. We don’t usually see the the fruit borne from the seeds we plant. Once in a while we are blessed to see the impact we have had — not to get to our heads but to show us the power that we have to forever illuminate our corner of the world. When we act kindly and positively impact another person (even if we are not aware of their impact), we have eternally changed the world. And our fruit, bear more fruit in a never ending continuum.
And yet … the key to eternal perpetuation is that solid foundation, which is supported by roots. It comes around full circle: The deeper the roots, the greater the fruits.