The Pine, the Oak, Resilience & Resolve

The towering fragrant pine tree, with its soft wood, limber physique and roots up to three times the diameter of its foliage, is not only strong but also flexible. Standing high above all else in the forest, their tops provide sanctuary for soaring eagles. The pine’s youthful evergreen presence is refreshing and inspiring.

Leveraging its agility and vitality, the pine can withstand high winds, droughts, fires and just about anything barring a lightning strike, pine beetles or a lumberjack. The pine is also versatile, providing people with everything from furniture and building materials to cleaning supplies and holiday decor.

Resilience is typified by a pine. Much like daily physical training for strength and endurance or by how we slowly build immunity to bacteria and viruses, everyday pressures and hardships develop resistance. Although reactive and defensive, if one can withstand a routine barrage, they do, over time, become stronger.

On the other hand, behold the grand stately oak with its hard wood and legendary strength. When we think of the oak, we see stamina, stability, longevity, ancient wisdom, unwavering persistence and steadfast determination. With a root system twice the size of a pine and a stiff, rigid and inflexible stature, the oak is a real tough guy. However, it’s strength can at times be his own worst enemy.

Heavy limbs can snap in a mere breeze. Drought can make the oak’s limbs dry and brittle. Unlike a pine, an oak’s canopy is so broadly distributed, a direct lightning strike can split the tree in half, all the way to the ground. Fortunately, the oak’s deciduous and rejuvenating nature helps preserve these shady refuges. When injured, it develops a scar, a callous to protect its wound, keeping microorganisms and decay at bay. Then when spring rolls back around, the oak renews and regenerates.

Much like with the oak, sudden trauma, severe injury or illness or unexpected disaster will weaken your body, your mind, your spirit. Catastrophe doesn’t build resilience. Instead, it tears you down. When you’ve found you’ve hit rock bottom, you quickly realize that all you have left is your resolve. You stop accepting and accommodating, and you begin acting offensively and proactively. After your injury has formed it’s scab, you tap into that firmly rooted core, and you regrow. You restore with what you have left.

You understand that many people don’t get second chances so you’re very grateful for any opportunity that comes your way. The daily hassles you used to find exhausting, seem like distant fond memories. Simple things appear extraordinary. People who you once took for granted are suddenly precious. Decisions that used to seem difficult, now look crystal clear.

That is because, unlike before, you now have purpose and intent, and with this novel direction comes raw courage, fresh determination and a new season. You’ve learned the hard way, through experience. The daily grind polishes you, refines you, keeps you healthy, limber and alert, like the evergreen pine. Disaster, on the other hand, knocks you out, wakes you up and leaves you finding that, like the oak in springtime, you’ve been completely transformed.

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