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Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Worry Tree
T and I planted a Prairiefire Crabtree in our backyard four years ago, and every spring since I've looked forward to seeing the flowers on this little, scrawny tree turn from pink to brilliant white. As I look down on the tree now from my window, it looks like the tree is covered in popcorn. It is my favorite tree, the crown jewel of our yard. I check on it nearly every day; I just like to stand next to something so perfect.

Every winter, I worry about this little tree. We've had mild winters the past few years, but it still gets pretty cold here and I am always afraid the belle of the backyard won't make it. In the spring, I notice little scratches on the trunk from various small animals who were looking for a cold-weather snack. The trunk is not at all sturdy yet -- we have metal stakes on either side of the tree, twine connecting the stakes to the tree. During severe weather, the tree sways violently. Since it's right outside our patio doors, we watch it as the wind and rain whip it around, and we pray that it will survive the storm. It always survives, and ends up looking more beautiful than ever despite the trials of nature.

Spending my time worrying about this tree is pointless, really. No amount of fretting could save it from a tornado, no amount of panicking on my part saved it from a collision with one of ST's friends last week (when it lost one of its lower branches and gave ST's pal a nice scratch across the nose), and nothing will save it from being used as a latrine for the neighbor's dog. What will happen, will happen -- I can do my best to protect it and care for it, but it will thrive or fail to thrive largely on its own.

I was thinking of this tree last night as I reread my post from yesterday. I fully admit that I can be a bit of a control freak, and this was very obvious in my last post. Last night, T and I had just a short conversation about everything that's going on in our lives right now, and I asked him if he really, really wanted me to stop thinking and worrying about his job, the house, etc. He smiled, took my hand in his, and said, "Hon, have I ever let you down before?" He hasn't. "I know what needs to be done, and I need you to trust me on this."

So I find myself again letting go, something I vowed to do last year when the job search was just beginning. I told myself then that if I did my best putting together job applications and did my best at any interviews, something would happen. And if not, then not. It was just too much energy to think about it back then, and firmly resolving to stop panicking about it really helped me. I'm hoping letting go will help me in this set of uncertainties, too.

Much better to focus my energies on something I can control: the dissertation. And what better day to write than when the wind is whipping outside, it's rainy and gray, and my little crabtree is looking just as beautiful as ever?
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 4/25/2006 12:15:00 PM  
4 Words of Wisdom:
  • At 1:12 PM, Blogger ArticulateDad said…

    You and me both, dear. Lovely sentiment. In honor of this post, I'll have to post something pithy about my weepy apple tree. I'll take a shot in the morning, since I won't be home until after dark tonight.

  • At 2:26 PM, Blogger phd me said…

    Yeah! I knew you'd find your equilibrium. Now if only I could follow your lead and just let. things. go.

    What an absolutely gorgeous crabtree! I so want one!

  • At 6:55 PM, Blogger Peri said…

    I'm so impressed with your gardening skills AND with your talk with T. Good for both of you! Thanks for the photo of the crabtree. :)

  • At 8:46 PM, Blogger Lilian said…

    This is a beautiful post - the metaphor of the tree and your life is great.

    I'm glad you've reached this wise conclusion (trying to focus on what you can control).

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