Youth is celebrated.
Yet, everyone ages.
A new, baby tree is so cute and beautiful. It’s flexible; it bends to the ground in a heavy wind. It’s short, unable to see the horizon over older trees. The bark is youthful and smooth, without many marks or deep grooves. The bright-green, tender leaves are small and dainty.
The older tree climbs far above the new tree. The trunk is thicker. The bark is rough and deeply grooved. It’s apparent that it has had much wear and tear over the years. The trunk is strong and stable. Its branches can hold the weight of climbing children and homemade swings. It can stand firm through strong winds. It towers over the other trees, giving it a perspective many others cannot see. Its leaves are dark and thick, veiny and tough, even coarse. Each mark and groove tells a story of a storm weathered, a season endured.
My precious grandma stayed in a nursing home. My daughter said, “Mom, nursing homes are like orphanages for old people. They are mostly alone, with visitors few and far between. People come in for an hour to visit once in a while, and then they’re gone again.” It crushed her heart.
Youth is idolized in our nation, and older people are devalued.
Getting old isn’t glamorous.
What’s the …
Best youth-restoring moisturizer?
Coolest thing to wear?
People look to plastic surgery to lift it, tuck it, change it, keep it youthful.
Everyone wants to stay young. But it’s in growing that we gain wisdom to live by and share. It’s the storm survival that makes us like that tall, sturdy tree. Our marks are testimony to our endurance. We gain perspective and can have peace in the storm because we know we will make it through, even if we lose everything. We know there’s a circle of life and we are just a tiny part of it.
The life that once seemed larger than life when we really thought we were somebody now seems so small, like we haven’t left enough of a mark.
Will anyone remember me?
How long until I am forgotten?
What more could I have done?
All those years I wasted, believing I was invincible.
Someday your feet will be carried, too.
One day you will be like the very people you see no value in now. You may end up alone in a nursing home, wondering whether anyone will remember who you are in 100 years.
When you are on your next trip in nature, remember to look at the trees. The most beautiful ones are large and weathered, with the thickest trunks and intricacies in every branch. Their leaves are larger than your hands. Their branches stretch to the heavens.
That same stunning beauty can be found in the wrinkle lines, spotted hands, thick trunk, and hunched back of an elderly person. They carry their stories in their bodies and their minds. They will mesmerize you if you just ask.
Maybe you will find some wisdom to help your tiny new leaves weather some future storms.
You know they’re coming.