One of my favorite parts of Health Coaching involves the use of metaphors. A metaphor is the expression of the understanding of one concept by relating it to another similar concept. Artists use metaphors all the time, too – as do authors. Here’s a metaphorical story you might be able to relate to – it’s called The Tree:
It was a warm sunny day in the Magical Forest. Several rabbits frolicked by the side of
the forest pond, as a gentle breeze rippled through the largest oak overlooking the water, making the leaves dance and tinkle softly. The unmistakable scent of wild lavender was in the air.
‘I can do a lot better than this you know,’ declared the largest branch on the tree, ‘soon I’m going to branch out on my own. I’m almost as big as the entire tree now. I take most of the light around here, absorb most of the food and catch most of the rainfall. On top of that I provide the best shade for travelers in the summer and the majority of acorns for future growth and food for the squirrel and rabbit populations. I am supreme.’ The other branches on the tree agreed. They had to accept what the big branch said, he was indeed predominant in most ways – his only failings being a lack of modesty and understanding that all parts of the tree were one. The trunk of the tree, in his usual manner, said nothing. Unnoticed, he just quietly kept on supporting the chattering branches has he had done year in and year out since ancient times. Late one year, when the cold nights were drawing in and all the golden leaves had tumbled sleepily to the ground, a woodcutter appeared and eyed the large branch. ‘That’ll keep us warm for the winter,’ he said to his apprentice, and with no more ado he sawed it off and dragged it away to his hut.
The smaller branches were panic stricken, thinking their turn was next. ‘Your time is yet to come,’ groaned the trunk, in a deep rumbling voice, for his body ached where the big branch had been chopped off. He felt not only that he had lost an arm, but a son as well. ‘Everyone’s turn will come, even mine. So be advised that you can survive longer and be happier if you don’t get noticed or too big for your boots – like he did. A tree is not just one branch; in the same way as a branch without twigs and dancing leaves is barren. Neither is a trunk alone a tree: I am but nothing without branches and roots.