Traditional Teachings Made Relevant Today Lesson 17: If you want to lean on a tree, first make sure it can hold you
– Cameroonian Proverb
Did you know there are approximately 3 trillion trees in the world?, and of those 3 trillion there are 60 different species of trees. Symbolically speaking, a tree can represent protection, strength, healing, connection, spirituality, expoloraton, the unseen, fertility, grounding, transformation, power, and growth. This also differs depending on the country as each culture has their own symbolism and connection to trees.
The beautiful thing about trees is that each individual tree has its own meaning, for example an Oak tree represents strength, longevity and nobility. A Birch tree represents beginning, renewal and youth, whereas a Holly tree represents action, assertion, and objectivity. An Elder tree represents transition, evolution and continuation, whilst the Willow tree; which is my favourite tree, represents imagination, intuition, life, and vision.
Now the most important thing I want you to understand about what i’ve just said, is that each tree is different.
Each type of tree has its own unique characteristics, energy and symbology, therefore not all trees can offer you the same ‘support’. For example, if you are looking for strength and power you wouldn’t go to a willow tree to lean on, you would seek out an Oak tree.
If you are looking for change and something new you wouldn’t go to an Oak tree to lean on, you would seek out an Elder tree. So when you are in need of a specific type of support, you have to learn to choose the tree accordingly.
It sounds simple enough, but some people don’t consider whether or not the tree can hold them, they just assume it can because it looks strong, it’s always been there or has supported them in the past. Thus causing more harm to the tree as well themselves as they too can end up falling with the damaged tree.
In life there will be moments when negative situations occur where you may feel lost, upset, scared, or hurt, and you look to your close friends for support, advice, to vent, or simply someone to lean on. Your friends are usually more than happy to be there for you come rain or shine, but just like the trees, not every friend can hold you, or offer the right type of support that you need at that time.
Take a moment now to think about your friendship group, and think about each individual person. You’ll notice that no one friend is exactly the same, and like the trees they all have their own unique characteristics, personalities, and energies.
Every friendship group is different, and the dynamics can change, so you may have that one friend who is always up for a good time and has a carefree outlook on life, or that friend who is more quiet and laid back. There is also that wise friend who always has advice and keeps you in check, or the funny friend who finds humour in everything and knows how to make
you laugh. You may even have an emotional friend, who is more compassionate, expressive and sensitive.
When it comes to leaning on a friend for support, you must first take in consideration the following; sometimes your friend is not as strong as they seem. They may be dealing with their own negative situations, and may not have the mental strength at that moment in time to hold you up, as well as themselves. It happens sometimes, and there will be moments when you have to push your needs to the side first in order to make sure your friend is okay. Another point to take into consideration is that your friend may not be able to offer you the right advice or support, this could be due to a lack of knowledge and experience. Sometimes your friends’ characteristics alone may affect the type of support they can provide, for example if a situation occurs where you need solid advice, you wouldn’t reach out to your more ‘emotional’ friend, as they may cause you to overreact and think with your heart rather than your head. You would seek out your ‘wise’ friend who can help you process and think logically. If a situation occurs where you need a ‘pick me up’, a good time to forget about your troubles, you wouldn’t seek out your chilled friend to lean on. As that environment could cause you to go within yourself and introspect, causing you to overthink about all of the what ifs, whys, and hows. You would seek out your carefree friend, who knows exactly where to go to have a good time, and allow you to be stress free.
By not taking the time to choose the right friend, you may feel as if your needs are not being met, or your friend simply doesn’t care. Therefore causing more damage to your emotions and the situation that led you there still remaining unresolved.
So before leaning on a friend, first make sure they can hold you, a simple text message or phone call asking your friend how they are, and if they have a moment to listen to your needs can make a whole load of a difference. This allows you both to set aside some time, and mentally prepare yourself for the conversation at hand. I say this not to dishearten you from reaching out to your friends when you are in need, but instead to take some time to think about the situation at hand as a whole, and what specific support you want. So that the right person can hold you up, as choosing the wrong friend to lean on could cause damage to you both.
Affirmation: I give thanks and praise to mother earth, who has provided me with the trees that sustain me, and provide me with the oxygen I need to live and breathe. I will do my best to care for the earth and connect myself with nature physically and spiritually.