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Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Reed and the Oak

An oak and a reed were arguing about their strength. When a strong wind came up, the reed avoided being uprooted by bending and leaning with the gusts of wind. But the oak stood firm and was torn up by the roots. —Aesop

Within each of us, as in the reed and the oak, is a single characteristic, which is both our strongest and weakest trait. The bending which keeps the reed alive makes it weak, we might think. Some of us see both sides of every argument and are good team players, fair judges, and compassionate friends. But like the reed - always bending to the needs of others - we may never know what we want or who we are.Some of us believe we are like the oak: strong and tough and successful in the face of most difficulty. But we may never learn to accept flaws in ourselves.We are wise to remember that no trait is strong or weak, but we make it so by how we use it. We can use our strength to stand straight in the face of hardship, and we can use our strength to bend.

We talked about this months ago in a Mustard Seed meeting, and I read about it years ago in The Tao of Pooh (highly recommended)... When we take a good, hard, and more importantly, honest look at ourselves, we discover our strengths and weaknesses. An even closer look can reveal how those weaknesses could be used to make us stronger. Like the reed that bends in the wind.

And supposed strengths that are misused eventually bring us down. I like how the thought describes a trait as neither strong nor weak... it's how we apply it.


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