As we were out celebrating some time off today, I noticed this tree by the side of an old abandoned country road here in Central Texas. I’ve passed this tree dozens if not hundreds of times over the last decade or so, but for some reason, today it caught my eye.
You have to understand that in this fairly arid part of the world, large trees are not the norm and the size of this tree (approximately 20 feet tall) was pretty typical. What caught my eye and what was atypical was the trunk of the tree. It was approximately two feet in diameter, which, for this part of the country is a pretty sizable tree trunk.
However, this is a Texas Live Oak tree and that trunk is NOT how a healthy tree appears.
So I took a closer look and discovered that the entire trunk (at least the side facing me) was dead.
I looked up into the canopy of the tree and could see where the old, MUCH larger trunk had snapped off.
The reason that I’m sharing this “tree” story with you in what is typically a technology/business context is that I was reminded of a few fairly important life lessons by this tree:
- Just because things are going well right now doesn’t mean they always will… This tree had many healthy years before things changed. Be alert and prepared to react. [Be “present”]
- Just because things have gone well for a long time doesn’t mean they will continue to go well indefinitely. Plan and prepare accordingly. [Look “forward”]
- Just because things go all pear-shaped, even if it is when you are “mature” does not mean that there aren’t good things yet to come. [Resist despair]
I know that this time of year can be very difficult for some folks. The holidays can make us introspective and the combination of the awareness of missing loved ones, friends, etc… when looking backward, combined with the assessment of our current circumstances (and possibly past mistakes) as we plan for a new year and look forward can create a whirlwind of despair and stress that is hard to withstand. If there have been health or other setbacks as well, that whirlwind can rapidly become a hurricane.