Wednesday, April 30, 2008

giving trees

If you have never read The Giving Tree, do yourself a favor and go buy it. (I suggest 3rd Street Books in Ozark. Despite the owner's fear of racing me on foot, I still think he is a pretty decent fellow.) Let me tell you a bit about the book, for those of you who are not familiar with Shel Silverstein's finest.

There is this boy. He is constantly taking, taking, taking without appreciating what he's given.

There is this tree. She's a nice-looking tree with long limbs from which I, myself, would like to swing. She provides ample shade. Through the years, she gives abundantly to someone who never truly appreciates her-

Whoa. See that last line there?

Interesting isn't it? A tree who gives everything to people who don't care enough to even say a simple thanks. Don't worry. I am not going to give you a big schpeel about environmentalism and "saving the trees." (While I do think that's important, that is neither here nor there.) Here is what I'm thinking. I know people like this tree. My mother, for one. My father, for another. What do I do to show them how much I appreciate them? I say thank you--which is more than the boy can say--but is it enough? My dad has spent thousands of hours worrying over my safety, protection, and general well-being. I know for a fact he has lost sleep over it. He even cares enough to harp on me about checking my tire levels and carrying pepper spray at night. My mom has lent me her ear on thousands of occasions, then offered wise counsel about various tricky situations in life. Both parents have done so much for me, often without me even knowing about it. So what can I do to repay them?

The boy almost had it right; he kept coming back to the tree. While the tree wasn't particularly happy with the boy for only coming back for more "stuff," the tree did enjoy the boys' company. And while the boy (now an old man) didn't truly understand that company is what the tree really wanted, he still made the tree happy by sitting on her stump--because she had already given the boy her apples, limbs, and trunk--to enjoy an afternoon or two in his old age.

I suppose that's the lesson. The best thing you can give someone, in many cases, is your companionship. These days that is a hot commodity.

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