Part of life is facing challenges. How we deal with them is all over the board. We can choose how we feel about challenges and how we deal with them. Now that’s a skill we can all practice – choose how we want to feel and react instead of falling back on old patterns. Bending and letting the wind blow through without breaking us is a skill that has been encouraged for centuries, across multiple cultures, and yet, the concept still seems new to so many people
As far back as Confucius, we were encouraged to notice, “The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in the storm.”
Some authorities quote an ancient African Sukuma proverb or one from Tanzania that states, “The wind does not break a tree that bends.” Even the French have a version, attributed to Jean de la Fontaine.
One of Aesop’s fables focuses on the oak and the reed and their difference in flexibility. Wikipedia notes many variations on the story.
Here’s the conclusion from Aesop’s Fable, ‘”Well, little one,” said a Tree to a Reed that was growing at its foot, “why do you not plant your feet deeply in the ground, and raise your head boldly in the air as I do?”
“I am contented with my lot,” said the Reed. “I may not be so grand, but I think I am safer.”
“Safe!” sneered the Tree. “Who shall pluck me up by the roots or bow my head to the ground?” But it soon had to repent of its boasting, for a hurricane arose which tore it up from its roots, and cast it a useless log on the ground, while the little Reed, bending to the force of the wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over.’
How does one apply this valuable skill of bending? Dr. Wayne W Dyer, in his blog entry, “Allow Yourself to Resist Brokenness by Bending“, has this recommendation,
“Look for times when you can make the choice to weather a storm by allowing it to blow through without resistance. How does this work? Be willing to adapt to whatever may come your way by initially allowing yourself to experience that potentially destructive energy, much like the bending tree in the hurricane. When criticism comes, listen. When powerful forces push you in any direction, bow rather than fight, lean rather than break, and allow yourself to be free from a rigid set of rules—in doing so, you’ll be preserved and unbroken.
“Keep an inner vision of the wind symbolizing difficult situations as you affirm: I have no rigidity within me. I can bend to any wind and remain unbroken. I will use the strength of the wind to make me even stronger and better preserved.”
I choose to learn to bend. Someday that flexibility will also turn me into something that stands out in the crowd and is far more beautiful, just like the tree stretching over the lake.