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The Willow

Some people expect sunshine and roses all the time. But, life isn’t a bowl of cherries. It throws you the pits sometimes, too. But the pits are seeds, and, if tended and cared for, can grow into beautiful trees. It’s all a matter of how you react to the bad stuff in life. Whether the pit shrivels and dries up, or flourishes into something magnificent is up to the person on the receiving end of said pit. I’ve been thrown many a pit in my life, and sometimes I’ve not tended them well, and yet, others have flourished. 

One day while working as an employment specialist a couple years ago, I came across a seemingly stupid interview question: “If you were a tree, what kind would you be?” Believe it or not, interviewers actually ask this question, not because they want to know what kind of tree you’ll be, but rather, if you’re a team player and whether you’ll be a “fit” for the company culture. 

The kind of tree I would be is a Willow. Forget the weeping part. I cry, yes, but the Willow tree isn’t a sad tree to me. It’s a beautiful tree, with a multitude of layers and uses. When I was a little girl, I visited my Grandma Cullen in Wisconsin. I was about eight years old at the time. She had a willow tree in her front yard and I remember swinging on the willow’s branches. I had such fun weaving through the hair-like branches…a benevolent Medusa, if there is such a thing. (The name Medusa actually means ” guardian protectress” in Greek, and I always felt safe among the Willow’s branches.) 

So the question remains, why would I be a willow tree?

1. A willow tree is strong, resilent, able to withstand turmoil.

2. A willow tree can be used as a safe haven, the branches shelter everything within from the elements.

3. It’s a fun tree, a place people can come to enjoy…whether it’s a picnic under its branches or a child swinging on them.

4. A willow tree is a useful tree. Since ancient times, the inner bark has been used as a pain-killer. Its wood can also be used in the production of tannin and string. It is also used in biofiltration, ecological wastewater systems, and other ecological endeavors.

5. The Willow is a holy tree. It is one of the “Four Species” used in a ceremony for the Jewish Holiday Sukkot. It is also one of the nine sacred trees of Wicca and Witchcraft various magical uses.

6. And finally, a willow tree is somewhat mysterious. When you see one, you’re not sure what you will find within. ** The problem with this is, will others be disappointed when they discover what lies within the branches? Or will they be pleasantly surprised? Circling the tree, thinking it’s a beautiful, perfect tree can only answer the question of its outer beauty. You can only find out the truth by pushing aside the canopy of leaves and entering its hidden domain.

I don’t want to be perfect. Perfection isn’t fun. I never expect the people I love to be perfect either. My idea of perfect, is someone else’s idea of a flaw. It’s a matter of perception, acceptance, and loving someone enough to overlook the little shit to get down to the deeper issues at hand, whether that person is a friend, lover, sibling, or parent. There are people in my life, including myself, who are flawed…and yet I still love them. Yes, I love myself. I have to, otherwise I couldn’t give someone else my love. I have to remind myself sometimes. I get moody, and unsure of myself, but hell, don’t we all? Love is knowing everything there is to know about someone, and yet, you still give a damn, still care, and are still around when they need you. I am resilient. I am adaptable. I love.

I am a Willow.

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