Make Like a Tree: Branches

This is the third post in a 5-post series entitled, “Make Like a Tree.” Feel free to check out each of the posts!

Last week’s post was about our “trunk,” or our core values and beliefs that make up our identity and the person that we present to the world on an everyday basis. This week we’ll look at our “branches.”

Our identity and the values that we choose to embrace tend to be the main drivers behind our goals and the things that we reach for in life; these things make up our branches. In nature, there is an incredible phenomenon that you are likely familiar with, but perhaps unaware of the name – phototropism. Phototropism is the ability that plants have to orient themselves toward a source of light. These are the trees that bend themselves around buildings or the flowers on our sills that lean to face the window. The “sun” in our life is whatever we reach our branches toward. Perhaps some of us in the New Year seek to build health, some of us may reach our branches toward the next rung on the corporate ladder, others still may reach toward improved relationships, or better understanding of self. Whatever goals we reach toward are built on, and grow out of the values and beliefs in our trunk.

As mentioned in last week’s post, we see that the health of any particular section of our life is, in some ways, dependent on the health of the previous sections; this is certainly no different in today’s post – the health and substance of our goals is deeply tied to our values. Once we reach the branches, however, a new pattern begins to emerge: the pattern of disposability and adaptability.

In general, any particular branch on a tree is disposable. This is surely not to say that branches play no role in the life of the tree, but as we move up a tree away from the roots, we see the value begin to shift. Our goals are necessarily disposable. As life changes and we move through different stages of development, the goals that we reach for must also change. It’s important to recognize that the loss or change of a goal does not mean failure. Sometimes branches are cut from a tree in order to preserve the health of the tree – sometimes it is necessary to change or even remove a goal.

Our branches are also an expression of self; built on our values, we “reach out” to the world through the tasks and activities that we devote our time to. To answer the question “To what do I give my time,” is to begin to answer the question, “What do I really value?” The composition of your branches can serve as a metric to the strengths and weaknesses of your tree.

Next week we’ll take a look at our “leaves;” the ever-changing pieces of who we are.

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