There is an oak tree in my neighbor’s yard across the street from my house. It is magnificent. In the summer it is a canopy of green leaves; in the fall, a wash of autumn colors; and in the winter, a stark, beautiful reminder of strength in its trunk and many branches.
I look at it, and there is a sense of still peace.
Like many, I often walk through the woods to find that stillness. Here in the Pacific Northwest, the trees are mighty, a combination of old oaks and impressively tall young firs. When it storms, those firs bend in the wind and rain. The oaks stand solidly against the elements.
There is a metaphor in there somewhere.
Trees remain silent, never more than existing in the world they emerged from, but yet there exists in them a particular kind of power.
Where am I going with this? Let’s sidestep for a moment. Bear with me.
I’ve held many kinds of careers and jobs in my life. For many of those positions, I believed I was helping people. Sometimes that was clearly the case; sometimes it was a bit of a reach.
Lately, this subject of serving others has lingered in my thoughts. I was pursuing yet another career, training for it, and then realized about halfway through that it was not my path to walk in service to others.
There were several other factors involved in my decision to step away, but one of them was the lingering feeling that doing this would not, in fact, help people, and might actually harm some in the process.
So, I walked away, but I also walked into the question: “if that career is no longer a viable option, what could I do that would be in service of others?”
That’s when I had a dream.
Dreams are insane. Jung put a lot of energy and focus into dreams, writing them down near on religiously. Though I am nowhere near as dedicated (or obsessive) as Jung, I do find that sometimes dreams are quite interesting. For example, whenever I am planning a big move, I dream of losing my teeth.
But I digress.
This dream was no exception.
I spoke with someone that sort of resembled Galadriel. Wise. Older than she appeared. Definitely an archetype in every aspect of her existence. As we spoke, I asked her about this troublesome question of helping others.
She brought up trees.
“When you walk in the woods, do you feel at peace?” She asked.
I answered in the affirmative.
And I might be making this part up now because it fits the story so well, but I think she smiled gently and said: “But yet, those trees are just existing.”
Because we are constantly inundated with the need to Be something or Do something in order to make a Difference. We try to find our Purpose. We have a Path. We have all these things that are capitalized; but what if — what IF — occasionally, all we have to do is exist.
Just be ourselves. In our lives. No grasping. No “moving forward.” No plan. No striving. No growth.
What do you think, readers? In being ourselves, in merely existing, are we doing enough?