(a dialogue with Don)

After listening quietly for some time to a presentation about balance being the key to a less stressed-out life and the means of achieving that end, I decided to chime in with something that occurred to me: “If you bend with the wind, are you still a tree?” – hindsight: I should have said “Are you the same tree?”  edit, edit, edit.

The speaker had just pointed out that, in reaction to stress, our body presents us with a “fight or flight” response. It’s a purely autonomic reaction triggered by a flood of chemicals in our body designed for survival. He suggested that in order to achieve a more equal balance in our physical, mental and emotional lives that we learn to familiarize ourselves with these surges and urges, sort of “a familiarity breeds content”. Anticipate them so that we can deal with them.  But this is a paradox that contradicts several millennia of genetic survival evolution and social training. Your body tells you one thing but your mind (should) tell you the opposite, ie: learn to bend with the wind rather than stand against it.    

Less stress, less mess.

I followed the reasoning and a thought occurred to me.  “I’m a tree.”  Then I chimed in with “If I bend with the wind, am I still a tree?  Or have I become something else?”

The speaker then said, “It depends on what kind of tree you are.”

I replied “If I’m a willow, then I bend.  If I’m an oak, then I break.”

Only later did I think to ask, “What if I started life as an acorn? What choice did I have?”   How does an oak become a willow?   If one (or many) of the key elements that make me, me are challenged, what to do?   Simply ride out the storm, ultimately with a few less branches, or even crash to the ground?  Or question who and what I am. This is a conundrum within a paradox within a dilemma.  If I become an oak, then it is because I was once an acorn. Destiny. It’s not enough to say “Simply become a willow.”

There are roots that we cannot deny.  I believe it is flippant to say that we have free will.  Every choice we make is determined by the choices that are made either by us, or for us, on and on into the past. To toss off those choices and their consequences in order to achieve life balance is to deny who we are, what we are, where we are, and how we got here.     I’ve lost a good many branches.

Or did I miss something?

Lesson #55 – If You Bend.

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