Friday, April 22, 2011

To Bonsai or Not to Bonsai

Restrictive roots cause stunted growth in both humans and plants…

A tree, when left to the tenets of nature, will grow large and full, depending on its variety and location. Some bear beautiful, supple leaves, such as oak and maple and others have sharp, unfriendly needles, like the pine family. They are extremely tenacious and even cling to vertical rock surfaces in their effort to survive. Every place on earth has them with the exception of Antarctica and I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t want to live there either!

One thing they all do is to stretch themselves into the sky in search of life giving sunshine and carbon dioxide (You know, the stuff we aren’t supposed to be creating, but that’s another story for another day). If you’ll forgive the pun,the upshot is, they survive and flourish.

Does this sound like any other species we may know? Humanity, perhaps?

We stretch ourselves into the sun and absorb the crucial D vitamin and inhale the incredibly important oxygen that the trees have traded us for that nasty old carbon dioxide. Not a bad deal, huh? Sort of symbiotic wouldn’t you say?

Of course that’s not the main topic and I’m digressing a bit. What I’m trying to say is this. We’re similar in many regards, trees and us.

Take for instance… the art of Bonsai. We’ve learned to take a tree from early in its life and bend it to our will. It’s housed in a small pot where the root system is restricted, prohibiting its physical growth. With constant attention to what we want, we bend, prune, restrict and shape the tree into our vision. It really has no choice in the matter. Sometimes turns out beautifully and other times it, quite tragically, fails.

So, let’s take a human child and figuratively put him in a pot consisting of restrictive thoughts, bad judgments, poor ideals and negative behavior. This severely constricts the roots of his (or her… sorry ladies!) personality. This allows family, friends and society at large to shape the child’s behavioral patterns into a mirror of themselves. In short, it can stunt the mental and emotional growth as sure as if it were physically bound in a real pot.

But, what if we allowed the child to undertake an expedition into life and seek out the sun? What if we nurtured and taught him how to prune the weeds that caused the choking of his ego and the withering of his esteem? What if we encouraged success instead of saying “settle for what you have and be grateful for it!”? What if we showed him how to give himself permission to succeed? What if we allowed him to see that the universe truly is a friendly place and is deserving of all the success it will give?

And, just as importantly, what if we did this for ourselves? 

It’s not too late to step out of that Bonsai pot and take root in a very friendly universe!

Not too late at all.

By James W. Allmon ©2011