Willow and Oak

It seems to me that there are two kinds of strength: the strength of the oak and the strength of the willow. Everyone knows that the oak stands tall and proud, while the willow bows its head humbly to all who pass by. Can one really see strength in the willow?

Enter the wind. As someone once called it, “The most powerful force on Earth, and nobody has ever seen it.” Pit the oak tree against the wind, and the oak stands steadfast. Unwilling, unflinching, relentless in its grip. It will be conquering or be conquered; no quarter will be shown. If the wind proves too powerful, the oak tree will not bend. It will fight until it can fight no longer, and then it will break.

The willow greets the wind as it approaches, recognizing a fellow brother/ sister. As the wind dances around and tugs at the willow’s branches, the willow too begins to dance – opening its arms to the wind’s advances. If the wind increases its strength, the willow bends and gives leave; allowing the wind to vent its anger and then rebounding to its cause.

While some will sense this as mere proselytizing, others will undoubtedly sense the connection in the human world. The oak tree is the dominant male view, especially as it applies to business. “It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there; kill or be killed.” The military view is to break people down, and then to rebuild them all the same. You will look the same, dress the same, think the same . . . well, you won’t think at all. You will follow orders, exactly as they are given. Sound like a corporation to you?

What if each person was given a basic set of rules (“Everything I Need to Know in Life I Learned in Kindergarten”) and allowed to develop on their own? Teach them to value their own views, and respect the views of others, even though they may be contrary to their own. Here you have the willow.

When the wind comes, the oak tree breaks down. A new problem must be solved using existing answers. The problem must be made to fit the answer; if it steps beyond the bounds of capability? . . . Did you hear the wood creaking?

When the wind comes, the willow embraces it. A new problem becomes a new challenge. Since all are One but all are not the same, there are no rigid rules to apply. The walls cannot fall down; they do not exist. The room is not defined; it is growing.

Yes, there are times when even a willow must be an oak tree, but what are we teaching our children? “I tried to teach you to be yourself, but found that I cannot. I can only teach you to be me, for I am the only model that I have.”

Mike 19/1/93