Lessons in Oak

No matter the direction of the wind, they flex. If they were rigid, they would snap.

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One summer afternoon years ago, an older business friend and I were at a cafe having coffee. We liked the place because it had a great view of a tree filled park across the street with a spectular view of the snow-topped Colorado Rockies behind it. This particular afternoon, I was complaining about a office situation that I was up-in-arms about. After I finished my ‘rant, he asked if he might give me a word of advice. I respected his insights so I said sure. He told me to put my coffee down, turn in my seat and take a good look out the window.

I looked and then turned back to him. “Turn around and look again,” he said. “You know why those magnificient oak trees live to be hundreds of years old?” I shook my head ‘no.’ “Because they are flexible. When the winds come roaring in gale force down from the mountains or howling off of the plains, they bend. No matter the direction of the wind, they flex. If they were rigid, they would snap. That’s why they live to be hundreds of years old.” By the time I had turned around he had picked up the tab and left.

We are becoming more and more an inflexible society. Bending does not mean changing. Bending means absorbing the ebb and flow of ideaological currents. Inflexiblilty results in chaos and cruelty.

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