Willow Strong

There’s this poem by a 16th Century french poet named Ronsard which has stuck in my mind since grade school French class about which is stronger the mighty oak or the little bendy willow. The gist of it is that when the storms come and the wind is blowing, the mighty oak falls, but the flexible willow bends and stays standing. Good one right? For some reason it’s taken me a while to really get what that Ronsard guy was saying, and to start enjoying the benefits of implementing that principle in my daily life. Muscling around, pushing through situations, trying to change other people to suit how I want them to be is kind of oak-y behavior.

On the other hand, willow strength, that flexibility to look at changing my own reactions, actions, and thoughts about stuff is the mightier path, the path of champions. And learning to feel good about willowing through stuff, accepting what I can’t change and changing what I can – myself – is the golden ticket.

Why is this up for me today? I’ll tell ya. A friend of mine’s daughter, Jasmine, was dumped by her friend and now that former friend, her frenemy or just plain enemy, is torturing her by not letting her play reindeer games anymore. And Jasmine is banging at the door, wanting to be friends again, and every time she goes back for more she gets slammed again. Could the frenemy be nicer? Absolutely. Can Jasmine make that happen? Uh uh.

What can Jasmine do? She can leave it. She can move like a willow and get out of the storm. She can say to herself, “Friend, thank you for the good times we had. I don’t know why they are over and I wish they weren’t over but I am not willing to keep getting hurt by you. I wish you peace on your journey and I forgive you for your unkind behavior. I wish it were different but it is not and I accept that. I am moving on.”

Is that easy? Heck no!!! Do I want to do that with my stuff? Heck ya!!! I’ve tried the alternative and it’s gotten me bunched up for days, sometimes years, ok decades, over people and things that I have no power to change.

Using that kind of willow strength to respond to whatever storm is in my path has gotten much easier with practice. And it’s been much easier and more fun to be me doing me when I’m not bogged down, tied up, girding myself against whatever storm is up at any particular moment.

Willow strength helps me avoid getting dragged down, helps me stay standing, helps me feel good more of the time, helps me keep going. I’m gonna look for ways to move with the wind rather than fighting it today and keep going.