Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Are You A Bonsai Tree?

I had an epiphany yesterday. I like having epiphanies. Except I prefer it when they don’t come with tears, like yesterday’s did. The tears themselves aren’t so bad – very cathartic, and cathartic is good (it’s even a fun word to say, much like epiphany!). But when the wailing and gnashing of teeth are all over and done with, what I’m left with is one very scary-looking blotchy-faced woman squinting at me from the mirror through puffy eyes and hazy contact lenses. It wasn’t pretty, I tell ya, but it was worth it.

My big epiphany was that, in a few areas of my life, I’m a bonsai tree. Figuratively, that is (although after my lenses had clouded over in protest at the amount of salt water they had to cope with, it was kind of hard to tell from my reflection whether I was animal, vegetable or mineral anymore).

I’m a bonsai tree because I’m keeping myself small when I really want to be a big mighty oak. The irony is that I am already one. The only difference between me and the giants of the forest is that of scale, not of type. I am already that which I want to be.

Why stay small? Why limit my natural propensity for growth? Here are a few reasons of my own:

Space issues
Everyone can find space in their lives somewhere for a bonsai. When you’re small, you fit in anywhere. You don’t dwarf anyone, and you don’t threaten anyone. But, it’s kind of different when you’re a mighty oak. Suddenly, you don’t fit in where you used to. You stand out. You may be a gentle giant, but you’re a giant nevertheless, and giants need space for both their branches and their roots to grow. Other people may not understand. They may think you’re being selfish. They may feel entitled to the space that you claim for yourself. You may feel guilty. You may decide that it’s just easier to stay small to keep the peace.

But… staying small to keep the peace hurts you and ultimately hurts others as well. The world needs mighty oak trees. You are serving the world and Spirit best when you are being the very essence of your oakness.

Care and attention
Bonsais receive a lot of attention to keep them small. Mighty oaks don’t get the same kind of dedicated attention. You know such attention stunts your growth, yet you are scared to want something different. You may have seen what happened to those who did. Those who suddenly became persona non grata, even with members of their own family. Those who couldn’t be controlled by guilt. Those who are now spoken of with a bitterness verging on hate.

But… genuine love isn’t conditional, especially not on you staying small just to make others feel comfortable about their own smallness. And maybe, when you venture out to find your space to grow into a mighty oak, rather than it being lonesome, you discover tree-huggers who love you for your size and strength.

Are you a bonsai tree? Are there any areas in your life where you are keeping yourself small?

4 comments:

Akemi said...

Great post. There is nothing wrong about cute little bonsai if that is what you truly like to be, but if you wish to be a giant oak, go grow! No more excuses.

Mags | Woo-Woo Wisdom said...

Thanks, Akemi. You're right - it's all about being true to your highest path and purpose, whatever shape or form that may take. And yes, no more excuses...!

Andrea Hess|Empowered Soul said...

I like your epiphanies, too! :-) This was an awesome one. So true, it's easier sometimes to stay small - less complicated, less risky, just ... less. And then there's always those little voices in the back of our heads saying "who are you to think you're a mighty oak?"

Here's to being that big tree ... maybe even creating a whole forest! :-)

Mags | Woo-Woo Wisdom said...

Thanks, Andrea!