Lessons from a Pine Tree đźŚ˛

You have to venture out to an obscure part of California and Nevada to find a specific pine tree.

California boasts some pretty old trees including the Sequoias. I’ll write more about our experiences marveling at the beauty within Muir Woods in another post.

Today though – you may be surprised to find that the oldest living organisms on the planet – are called Bristlecone Pines.

Whether you are reading this post to learn more about how an organism adapts to its environment, or how the world’s oldest trees survive and thrive with fortitude and perseverance, it is my hope that you are also able to see how nature reveals lessons for our own personal growth.

Thriving in difficult conditions.

  • The soil is not a perfect blend – it’s actually limestone which is not good for growing much of anything.
  • They don’t require deep roots to sustain.
  • They never decompose.
  • It is suspected that the only way these trees can die are through being struck by lightning, heart rot, and erosion.
  • When you look at the tree the branches are twisted and distorted – perhaps the intricate way they stem from the trunk comes from resisting destruction during harsh conditions.

It is thought by scientists that some of these trees are over 12,000 years old.

Growth and Nourishment

  • The higher the elevation where the tree lives, the more branches it has.
  • These trees grow slowly. They have a “thick skin” or dense wood. This makes it hard for bugs or fungus to penetrate. They are essentially starved of moisture and nutrients – but not only do they adapt to this condition – this is how they thrive.
  • They are dormant for more than 3/4 of the year and takes about 100-200 years just to grow an inch.
  • These trees live so long that they can actually deplete all of the nutrients around the shallow roots, and they have the ability to shut off part of the tree that receives those nutrients so that the rest of the tree can keep growing.
  • You don’t see much bark on the tree because it has to shed it’s hard outer layer in order for the rain to penetrate the more delicate skin.

It is basically fed better when it’s outer shell is removed.

How do you sustain and have longevity? How do you stick it out when the weather conditions are tough in life? How do you respond when your outer shell is removed – exposing the more tender and vulnerable parts?

Strength

  • They live where few others can and actually flourish where most other plants would never survive.
  • They live so long because when a part dies, they let it die, and continue growing through other branches.

This past week I was investing time with people I care about. One night we were talking about life, timing, opportunities, struggles, growing, and finding answers to life’s tough questions through simply being faithful and focused on God’s will over our lives.

My friend Eric is who told me about this tree. It impacted me.

My thoughts

  • It’s not in how long we live – but rather how we live.
  • Endurance strengthens despite harsh conditions.
  • Perseverance and longevity come from adapting to surroundings.
  • When you’re feeling ragged and weathering some tough storms including periods of drought in your life – remember you’re a survivor and thriver.

If you got value from this, please share your comments below, read more at my website, our Facebook page, contact me here, and connect on LinkedIn

Smelling roses and watching the sun rise

Sometimes doing nothing is not bad. It helps the roses smell a bit more vibrant.

I can say I rarely do “nothing”.

One time I was home with the kids and it was an unusual day when we had “nothing” to do. The basics and chores were all done. It only took us 10 minutes to become bored in our “nothing-ness”. We got up, went off and did something active.

The only time I remember pausing – was in St. Thomas on a spring break.

I would go down to the shore before the sun came up, listen to the waves, watch the sunrise, hear the birds, and wait for my daughter to come out to strum the ukulele to her bird friends who would gather around.

It was beautiful – and fulfilling. I miss it.

The Golden Ass’ Magic Kingdom

Let’s go into the woods for a minute. Here’s a story straight out of Disney. Or was it?

The book was called “The Golden Ass” and written around the 2nd century. It was a story of two people who fell in love. A beautiful girl and her Prince Charming. The girl was known in the land for her beauty and the evil queen was jealous (every Disney princess movie?)

She even asked her mirror who was he fairest one of all (oh wait – maybe a different story -Snow White). Back to the story…The queen sends her minion to go kill the pretty girl (every Disney movie?). Are you surprised that he fell in love with her instead?

So the guy takes the girl to his palace but tells her not to look at him because he is hideous (Belle – Beauty and the Beast)

Wait – it gets better! The girl in this story has sisters. All envious of her. Little did they know she had a fairy godmother and a pumpkin (no…other story – Cinderella). But they did want revenge. So they told her to bring in a magical lamp (jasmine and Aladdin?) and go see if he was a monster.

When she saw him – He fled and so she spent a long time searching for her true love in a land far, far away (maleficent? Pocahontas?) and she finally submits to the service of Venus (aurora).

So the evil queen (Ursula?) sends the girl on a series of tasks and she keeps failing. For one task she had to go to the underworld and get a dose of beauty from an evil witch (uh – rapunzel, Tiana, Ariel, pick a princess). So. The princess can’t resist and she opens the box. Guess what. She falls asleep!! (Sleeping beauty – Aurora).

When the prince finds her he puts the spell back in the box and another god grants the princess immortality so they can be wed as as equals (little mermaid? Ariel).

(Somewhere in there are certainly Mulan, Elsa and Anna I’m sure!). Let it go – let it go! Be one with the wind and….We digress.

In THIS story of Golden Asses – written AGES before the mouse came along – the characters are named… Psyche (the beauty), Venus (the evil queen) and Cupid (Prince Charming).

Happy preV-Day…

It’s doesn’t matter what we stand for, but rather how we make our stand.

There once was a boy named Daniel. Daniel and some of his friends were taken to work for the King of Babylon. The king only wanted kids with no marks on their bodies who were strong, handsome and smart. When they got there everything appeared to be amazing. He was providing them with the best education and even fed them the same expensive food and wine that he ate. Yet – they were being trained to be the kings servants.

The food was not food Daniel and his friends should eat so he sought out the guy in charge of all of the workers and politely asked if they could be fed something else. You’d think the guy in charge could easily do that – but he was afraid of his boss. He said if he fed the kids something else the king would kill him by chopping off his head.

Daniel could have given up on what he believed. But he didn’t. So he created a relationship with the guard and basically said look – if you just try this for 10 days and if we actually disappoint you – then we will eat the food. But please – we can’t eat the food you are serving. The guard agreed because of the way Daniel stood for his belief and need. Turned out that while the kids were vegetarians they actually became stronger and God provided them with wisdom and were known as the smartest kids in writing and science. God even gave Daniel the ability to interpret dreams. At the end of the three years of training – the king thought of these 4 boys as 10 times smarter than the wisest men in the kingdom. (You should keep reading to find out why he still tried to kill them and what happened to them when they were thrown into a furnace and how that experience actually changed the heart of the horrible boss forever because they stood by what they believed. The story is in a really popular book that you can download online for free. It’s the Bible!)

So what’s the point?

I think there are many takeaways in here.

Sometimes you might be asked to do something you know isn’t right. But it’s how you handle the situation and communicate and build relationships that matter most. I have had a few situations at work where I personally know that the decision about something is reckless and makes no sense. I don’t want to “eat the Kings food”. But – if I tell the servant of the king that the idea they have is just not good – they could force me to eat the food. Thanks to my compadres we are continuously and quietly getting stronger and building the case for better decisions.

This story reminds me that HOW I continue to approach the Kings servants will determine if they will eventually open their minds to realize our ideas are a bit wiser. Instead of us getting chopped into pieces or thrown into a furnace.