Pretend there's a tree in my front yard.
This tree has been here since before I owned the house. In fact, when I moved in, the previous owner told me that the tree had been there since he bought the house and that was a full 40 years. This tree has been around a good while. But there's a problem. It doesn't grow. It never gets any taller or thicker. It does not leaf out in the spring, it does not exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen and it does not produce any kind of fruit. It doesn't perform any of the tasks a tree is supposed to perform. And yet... it remains in my yard, highly visible for all to see.
Each day I leave my house, I see this tree that does not live up to its potential and I find myself starting the day irritated. There must be something this tree needs so that it can grow, thrive, flourish. I need this tree to see in itself what its possibilities are. So I decide to make a concerted effort to talk to the tree, invest time in it by pulling weeds, making sure the soil is just right, giving it living rain water instead of chemically treated water, researching exactly the right kind of food it needs to really take off. I have set aside my irritation with the idea that if I work with this tree, it will begin to function as a working part of my yard. I will give it the love and time it needs so that it will see that I value it and that it can be a part of a really great yard that others will want to visit and maybe grow in the same way.
Everything is lined up. I have crossed every "T" and dotted every "I" so this tree has the best chance of not only growing, leafing out, exchanging gases and producing fruit, but becoming beautiful as well. But as I spend time with the tree, giving it everything it needs I notice that it's still not growing, still not changing. It is still irritating me that the conditions are optimal for growth and it's not happening.
You see, the tree has existed all these years in the same state. It grew to a certain point and then stopped. It was content with being small. It had no reason to get bigger. It had no desire to entertain the new idea of leafing and producing fruit. It had no desire to learn how to take a gas that can suffocate and turn it into life giving air for those around it. In fact, the tree took more time and energy than it ever gave back.
There comes a time in life when it can become necessary to yank out this life-sucking, time-sucking, non-fruit-producing, irritating tree. Give it the freedom to find another yard to be stagnant and toxic in. My energy is better spent with the trees and plants that want to grow, that are open to new ways of growing and readily entertain the idea that how they've always been shown to grow may have worked in the past, but time brings new intelligence, new understanding and if my plants are open to me helping them, they have the ability to reach their full potential along with all the other plants.
I need to do some time investing and pruning and plucking and nourishing and talking and loving. I need to make sure that the things in my life, regardless of how long they've been there, are the things that will help me reach my full potential and hopefully I'll bring others who are willing along with me.