Going Out On A Limb

When we moved into our house several years ago, it was during the month of June. A scruffy tree with small green leaves was blocking our view of the pond. I said I was going to cut it down.

Glad I got busy and didn’t. When it bloomed, it turned out to be the prettiest, largest, and oldest dogwood either of us has ever seen.

A tree is a lot like life. It starts out small. Once a root system is established, it grows up and out from where it started.

The tree remains connected to its origins, but it grows in many different directions, determined by a variety of environmental factors.

How much sunshine one side of the tree receives can enhance the stability and size of that section, while other parts of the tree remain healthy, just not as developed.

In addition to positive influences, a tree can face menaces such as bores and other insects, which can stunt its growth, or worse.

Through it all, a tree does its best to embrace the sunshine and good soil that help it thrive, while also fighting off all threats, so it can continue to grow.

Years turn into decades. The distance from the tree’s beginnings to a measurement of growth often shows surprisingly positive results. In spite of the fact that many outside forces may have done their best to stop the tree from reaching its potential, the tree continues to emerge triumphant.

My mother loves dogwood trees. When she and my father sold my childhood home and retired to the country, she planted dogwoods at the new place. One was a pink dogwood.

Instead of white flowers, the tree produced flowers with a beautiful hue of pink.

But a few years after planting the pink dogwood, she noticed the tree didn’t look so good. She called the county extension agent, who came out, took a quick look, and told her that the tree was a goner. It was too late to help it, and she should just give up and get another one. He told her she couldn’t save it.

First, you don’t tell my mother she can’t do something. Second, never underestimate an Arkansas dogwood.

My mom bought tree sealer and applied it after she soaked each borehole with spray.

That was years ago and that tree is thriving today.

Each of our lives is similar to that of a tree. There are those who do their best to build us up, and others who try and prevent us from reaching our full potential.

Growing up, I was taught to help others grow. I was told that if I couldn’t say something nice, to not say anything at all, and to never discuss politics and religion.

Somewhere along the way, both topics (especially politics) have made their way into people’s daily conversations, and especially in posts on social media.

The results have been disastrous.

Many Americans have lost lifelong friends because, instead of being the sunshine that friendships need, people have chosen to be the insects that bore into other’s foundations.

These political arguments have changed almost no one’s views, but have severed some relationships forever.

People come and go in our lives. If someone you considered a friend dropped from your life because of your politics, it doesn’t mean they once weren’t your friend. They were. It’s just that their time in your life has ended. Don’t let their actions live in your head rent-free.

Be like my mom, who was determined to save her dogwood. Do your best to focus on the positive, and avoid the negative. Be like her dogwood – determined to thrive.

And let’s stop discussing politics. We’ll all be better for it.


©2020 John Moore

To send John a message; buy his books, Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, or listen to his Weekly 5-Minute Podcast; visit his website at TheCountryWriter.com.




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