Advice from a Mighty Sequoia Tree

I recently had the opportunity to hike through the giant forest at Sequoia National Park.  We walked among trees that were 1000s of years old; some were over 40 feet in diameter and 100 feet in circumference.  Hidden in high groves of the mountainous sierras, it seemed as though we were walking through a majestic, natural cathedral.  The 19th century American Poet, Edwin Markham, stated “The sequoias belong to the silences of the millenniums. Many of them have seen a hundred human generations rise, give off their little clamors and perish. They seem indeed to be forms of immortality standing here among the transitory shapes of time.”

What wisdom could we glean from these giants? What advice would they pass on in their whispering voice?  Over the next few months I will be sharing a 4-part blog series regarding my reflections of the Giant Trees.  The first thought is…

Have Thick Skin.  The natural bark of the tree is a thick, cork-like texture that protects the core from insect and disease infestations.  When the forest ignites with fire the bark smelts into a smooth outer case, almost like a shell, that insulates the tree from damage.  In fact, the more fire the tree endures, the thicker the bark becomes.

One promise that holds in true in life, is that we will have challenges.  It’s normal and natural to grieve the disappointments, despairs and disillusionments of life.  However, if we are not cautious, the rot of resentments, anger and discouragement can infect the soul and destroy our core. We need thick skin to endure the flames of life.  Another way to think of it is to acquire greater resiliency.

Through educational endeavors, practice and hard work I earned a place in the executive office.  Occasionally, I was ribbed and teased as the only female at the executive table, but it was always in good humor.  However, the tone changed one day.  At a new location, the criticism became aggressive and extremely painful to endure.  The joy I once felt in serving, shifted to dread, then despair, dropping into depression.  I spent weeks hiding out in the women’s bathroom with tears streaming down my cheeks, waiting for the day to be over.  I felt like an unwanted guest at the ‘good old boys club.’

I sought the counsel of a supervisor/mentor and his words were unexpected.  He told me that if I worked for him, he would put me in the room with the most bigoted, assertive, woman- bashing people he knew.  As I digested his statement, I realized he was challenging me to grow in my resiliency.  The “voices” are always going to be there and I cannot control what they think, feel or say.  BUT – I can control myself and my reaction to their words.  My greatest defense would be the ability to withstand the storm with resiliency.  It’s one of the ways that the mighty sequoia has withstood through the ages.

How would growing toward greater resiliency impact your life?


Dianne Beard, MA

Licensed Professional Counselor

Posted in Mental Health, Sress and tagged , , .