Today I said goodbye to an old friend. It was a tree, but that tree symbolised something for me.
The day I started my first proper job 20 years ago it was sitting in a pot on my new desk neglected – nothing more than a stick with one lonely leaf on it.
I nurtured that plant, and it started to grow. I nurtured my career and that, too, started to grow. When I left that company to take a job that was bigger and better, the plant went with me. It took up a whole corner of my new office.
As my life grew with a bigger job, bigger family and bigger responsibilities, so too did that plant. It got so big that when I bought my first house I planted it in the garden. There it kept growing and growing without any thought for the consequences. But the foundations it was growing on weren’t as solid as they needed to be. One day that tree was going to collapse and take everything around it down with it.
Today we took a chainsaw to that tree. I thought I would be sad. But what I found underneath was another tree. It’s not the same as the old one, but it’s every bit as worthy and every bit as beautiful despite having been hidden away all these years.
And suddenly I understood. Just like the tree, my life had been growing out of control – bigger job, bigger family, bigger responsibilities. Just like the tree, I was cut down in my prime by the chainsaw of burnout. And just like the tree, I discovered another life – it wasn’t the same as my old one, but it is every bit as worthy and every bit as beautiful as the one that was there before.
So instead of sadness for what is gone, there is joy, excitement and hope for what the old tree, the old life, has been replaced with.