One of my favorite things about my house is the big perfectly full tree in my front yard. I know it sounds odd, especially coming from someone who is allergic to most outside things, but I am attached to my tree. She is simply beautiful and she makes me smile every time I look at her.
I don’t actually have any idea if my tree is a boy tree or a girl tree, but I am convinced she is a girl tree because she is regal and she adds a peaceful quality to our entire home. She fills the view in every window at the front of our home. And this is the time of year when she is most glorious. Yellow and red and green and orange. Her leaves fall over the course of about 4 weeks and they rest beneath her, blanketing our entire yard.
My girly tree may be magnificent, but she also causes a few problems. She hangs over my driveway, blocking our ability to park in one area. She also hangs so low in several spots that she’s a pain in the behind for the guys who mow the lawn. I know I should probably do something about her – maybe trim some of those branches back – but I just can’t bring myself to risk touching her in any way because she is so magnificent just the way she is. And the truth is I’m afraid to change her in any way because I’m worried she’ll never be the same again.
What if she doesn’t recover?
And what if she’s never as full and beautiful?
There’s risk in pruning. She may never really be full again. There may be parts of her that are missing forever or that will never be the same. And yet there’s a chance the risk could yield great reward – with a little time she may be even more full and even more beautiful and even more happy.
I have realized something about myself recently. I have always known that in a crisis situation, I can make critical decisions very quickly and I won’t overthink them or second guess myself. But I have learned that I am not very courageous when I have time to make a decision. As it turns out, I will allow myself to worry and over-google every little thing and I just cannot seem to commit to a decision.
Am I seriously more afraid to prune my favorite tree than I am to prune in my personal life? Maybe so. And I’ve been trying to figure out what that says about me.
Several months ago I disconnected from almost everyone who is also connected to my ex-husband. Well over a hundred people all in one afternoon. Quick and easy decisions. In some cases I did that because I wasn’t truly communicating with those people regularly anyway and in some cases I did that because you can’t really be my friend or truly care about my children if you are going to support behavior that is wrong. It’s all very black and white for me.
I’ve spent almost a year thinking I should feel badly about that decision but not actually feeling badly about that decision. When the pruning was over that afternoon, I felt free for the first time in months. I was free of all the people attached to a negative force. Free of all the people who would ask what’s going on and what’s happened before they would ask how my girls are doing. Free of all the people who are afraid to do their own pruning because they are stuck in an old life. Free of all the people who aren’t brave enough to not be a fence-hugger.
But what I also did – and a couple of people who love me were real enough with me to call me on it – is disconnect from people as a defense mechanism. I chose to disconnect from some people before they had a chance to hurt me by possibly choosing to try to be friends with just him or with us both. It’s a fair criticism, and it’s easier to see now with some time and space. And yet with all that’s happened in the time since I made those quick pruning decisions, my determination to not allow shades of gray in some areas of my life is even stronger. My determination to prune and let go is even stronger.
Call me mean, call me a narcissist, call me a bad friend, call me ungrateful, call me whatever. This is my life. And it may sound shocking, but I’m pretty sure I know me and what is best for me better than anyone else.
I opened Facebook this weekend and saw that a friend from church posted this quote: “Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.” I don’t think I’d seen it before, or if I had I’d forgotten it. And it reminded me of my journal entries about friendships and my thoughts about my tree and it just kind of pulled a few things together for me.
My magnificent and glorious and strong tree shows me how beautiful it is to change and let things go. She bravely lets go of her leaves, sometimes a few at a time and sometimes in a big heap in one day, trusting that with spring’s rebirth she will be even stronger and taller and fuller.