The Giving Tree and Me
You may not have read Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” since you were a child. You may not remember much other than a tree loved a boy so much that she gave herself away piece by piece until there was little left.
“Once there was a tree and she loved little boy. And every day the boy would come and he would gather her leaves. And make them into crowns and play king of the forest. He would climb up her trunk and swing from her branches and when he was tired, he would sleep in her shade. And the boy loved the tree very much.. And the tree was happy.”
Whether it was her apples to sell or her branches to build a house, the tree gave and the boy was happy. He stayed away for a long time until he needed something else. When he grew up, the tree offered her trunk so he could build a boat. He cut her down and sailed away. He became an old man and she gladly offered him her stump so he could sit..and the tree was happy.
I come from a family of trees. Women that give and give and give…As a child I was always curious that the phrase “give and take” was always used synonymously when talking about love. I saw so much more taken from these women than was given to them. And in the same way the tree was happy, they seemed to be happy. But surely…there must have been sadness to be cut away to nothing for the sake of other people.
I hope the image you see here, raises the same questions it did for me. When we love someone, how do we give of ourselves in just the right way? It is a fine balancing act to be joyful in our acts of kindness without every feeling sorry that we did so. The appearance of the tree is child-like, even whimsical…but when we look closer the subject is anything but playful.
In my own life, I have given many apples away. When I can help someone who needs me…I am happy. I am generous even after many nicks and snapped branches. But when I see someone approaching with an axe, I know it’s time to move on to a new forest.