Friend Maria B sent me an email in response to the Anthony Hordern “While I Live I’ll Grow” tree post, part of such email reading:
“. . . because of its connection with King Arthur's round table which was made from a single cross section of a large Oak. I love the poem and how strong you can become even when others put you down!”
Maria accompanied the email with the folowing poem:
The sentiments expressed are contrary to what a lot of wise men, philosophers and sages have expressed through the ages:
newborn – we are tender and weak
in death – we are rigid and stiff
living plants are supple and yielding
dead branches are dry and brittle
so the hard and unyielding belong to death
and the soft and pliant belong to life
an inflexible army does not triumph
an unbending tree breaks in the wind
thus the rigid and inflexible will surely fail
while the soft and flowing will prevail
- Tao Te Ching
The Oak and the Willow, a fable
In a field, there was an oak at one end, and a willow-tree at the other.
Whenever a wind moved through the field, the willow swayed in the wind, while the oak remained unmoved.
When this happened, the willow said to itself, “I wish I was as strong as the Oak, instead of bending over with every breeze“ then one day a large windstorm whipped through the field.
When the storm passed, and the darkness lifted, the willow looked across the field, and was shocked to discover that the oak was laying on the ground, broken. When the Gardener came into the field, the willow said, “Oh sir, what happened to the Oak? How is it that I survived the storm, weak as I am, and the Oak fell?”
The Gardener said, “Oh little willow-tree, do you not understand what happened? When the winds blow, you bend with them, while the oak remains still. So when a really powerful wind comes along, you can bend with the wind, and survive it. But the Oak cannot bend, and so if the wind is strong enough, it will break. For the Oak had a secret, a weakness within that no one looking at the outside could see. And the Gardener went on his way, leaving the willow to ponder what he said.
Moral: Strength within and strength without are not the same, and one should cultivate strength within first. Also, when the winds of life blow, bend, and you may survive the real storms when they come. Try and resist them, and when the real storms come, you may break instead.
Even Bruce Lee expressed the same sentiment:
And talking of trees . . .