On my way in to work each morning I pull up to an intersection that causes me to face a line of not so very old trees. These trees were carefully planted a number of years ago and are nicely spaced so as to have plenty of room to grow without interference from neighboring trees. The one that is almost straight ahead is a beautifully shaped specimen — even, symmetrical, tall. Not constrained by other trees.
How unlike the trees in my backyard. The ones I planted from little seedlings and saplings. The white oaks that are too close together because each was an acorn with a leaf attached when planted. And planted a bit close because I wasn’t sure which, if any would survive and also because I didn’t have the vision to see the full grown tree. Same for the maples. And then, there is the McDonald’s pine tree brought home by a thrilled 3 year old and planted in a random spot.
My backyard trees are more like my life: They are lopsided because they crowd each other. They fight for the sunlight and the water and the nutrients. They form a solid cover over part of the yard. If one is removed, it is obvious that something has been taken away and it will take years to fill in the gap. Just like my life. All crammed in with people I love and ideas and responsibilities. When one of these is removed it’s pretty obvious. And it takes time to adapt and fill in the gap.
I’m not that perfect, symmetrical tree at the end of the street. I’m not an island. Some days, I wish I was. But, for today, I think it’s ok to be shaped by those around me — just as long as I can get enough sunlight and water and nutrients to hold up my spot.