Monday, October 08, 2007

Holding on Too Tight

Fall is here. I wrote last week about the leaves, beginning to change colors and take flight from the trees that have been their home bases since last spring. The pace of that change is accelerating now. Most of the trees around my home now have lots of leaves that are making "the change." Some leaves have already come down, others aren't quite ready to let go. Over the next month or so, all the trees will release their leaves and become the bare skeletons we will see throughout the winter.

I once heard a story about a tree that seemed to have a particular challenge around the cycle of life as it pertains to deciduous trees. It seems that as all the other trees were losing their leaves, this tree just said, "No. That's not for me!" The leaves on this particular tree would change color, just like the other trees. The leaves withered and shriveled, but they stayed firmly attached to the tree. A few of the leaves would fall, but the majority stayed where they had been since they budded in the spring.

When spring came around, it was as though the new growth physically had to 'push' the old leaves off of this particular tree. As the new buds formed, and the leaves started to emerge, the old leaves finally were forced off of the tree and then made their inevitable journey to the ground.

This tree didn't allow its leaves to fall until it was forced to. For whatever reason, it didn't want to let go of its old leaves and only did so when the new leaves wouldn't take no for an answer.

How often to we behave like that tree? How often is life calling us to let go of something but we stubbornly refuse? Or how often are we encouraged to make a change in our life, but our fear paralyzes us from taking the steps we need to take? The reasons we do this are complex and varied. The bottom line, however, is that we, like this tree, often struggle, resist and refuse to do what we need to do, until we are forced (often unpleasantly) by life to do it.

Change scares us. Growth often frightens us as well. Both are natural occurrences, just like a tree losing its leaves in the fall as part of the ongoing process of renewal and rebirth.

When I think of this tree, I try to remind myself that there is no use holding on to things when their time has passed. Sometimes its tough to know when some thing's time has passed, but that is one of the challenges of living. We need to learn to tell when something in our life or some part of ourself is dying or dead. When it no longer serves us, its time to let go. Those dead leaves serve no useful purpose. They only divert our energy and attention away from living our life to the fullest.

Making way for the new makes more sense and it is what I believe life calls us to do, each and every day. The odd tree, like our 'chronic holder,' shows up to remind us of this important cycle of life and the futility of resisting what is natural and inevitable.

We have to let go of the old, dead life in order to embrace the new growth and possibility that is available to us all.

Are you hanging on to anything that really isn't serving you anymore? It might be worth doing a 'life scan' to see what might be lurking around the edges. Sometimes these things are obvious, sometimes they are more subtle. They all drain energy that could be used to create a larger, more authentic life.

Let go of those old dead leaves! Let the growth process loose in your life!

No comments: