“As a twig is bent, so grows the tree.”
Thanks to Alexander Pope for that truth, but as it stands, it’s incomplete. Sometimes, the bend is not due to external forces. Sometimes, we shape ourselves. We prune, and we do it badly.
The shape of our tree is not solely up to us. Some aspects of my tree can be attributed to other people. I did not choose to be bullied. I did not choose to be abused. I did not choose to struggle with illnesses and accidents and mental health issues. Those cuts were taken by others.
I own some of the responsibility for the shape, however.
I’ve done my own share of pruning and oftentimes, the results are unspectacular.
I cut back the branches of bravery. I slash the twigs that enforce boundaries. I hack and hew at limbs that promise openness and honesty and acceptance. I cut off the buds, yet evidence shock when I struggle with these characteristics.
Other people’s attempts at pruning have not served me well. Sometimes, it was beyond my control. Other times, I let it happen. I gave up the snips and uttered not a word of complaint as they pruned me into a shape I didn’t want.
I failed to nurture and protect promising shoots.
I failed to water and fertilize.
The end result is a shape I’m not happy with.
It’s time to start caring for my tree. It’s time to take back the shears.
It will take time to correct the damage. A badly pruned tree doesn’t recover overnight. It can take years to regrow.
Recognize that. Recognize that even though you’ve put down the cutters, the damage will take time to undo. However, it will happen.
Time passes. I’m at an age where I recognize that it passes faster than I’d realized. But it will pass whether I let the shoots sprout or choose to stunt their attempts at growth.
The steps I take will impact the result. What my tree looks like is up to me. Do I want to be fully grown and majestic, or slashed and constrained? The former is hard but the latter untenable.
I’m tired of being stunted. Time to put down the snips and celebrate new growth, even if it looks, in the early stages, messy and unwieldy.