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Everything We Need to Grow

Imagine you’re a tree. (In my mind, I’m a big oak tree. But you can be any kind of tree you want.) Your roots go deep into the soil, which nourishes and supports you. They’re fed by the rain, which keeps your sap flowing. Your leaves are bathed in sunlight, which provides you with energy. You inhale carbon dioxide, which you combine with the rain and the sunshine to make food, which you can store for lean times. The wind (or, if you’re another kind of tree, maybe a bee) brings you pollen from other trees, so you can reproduce and make new trees. Each one of these things does something completely different for you. Each one is irreplaceable, and none of them are interchangeable. Without any of them, you would wither and die, or at least, perhaps, fail to fulfil your life’s purpose. (But with too much of any one, you may suffocate.)

Maybe there’s even a bird who builds a nest in your branches, raises a brood of children, and is gone by fall.

For me, people are like that. Some people–the people we might call central or anchor partners, but also perhaps our parents or siblings or best friends–ground us, stabilize us, support us. The ones we know we can always turn to. They’re the soil. Others may be more variable, but are no less crucial: the energizing, joy-bringing sunlight. The cooling, cleansing rain. The air that feeds you, helping you build strength for the times when the sun isn’t shining. And the winds (or bees) that bring you new ideas, inspire you, draw forth your creative force.

I’m so grateful for the sunlight and rain, the earth and the air, and for all the creatures who have taken nourishment, strength or protection from me for a day or a season or a year, or who have given it back.

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