What We Can Learn From the Selfishness of a Tree

We’re definitely in for a warm beverage, bundled up in a blanket kinda read this morning-

As we continue on with the unofficial part two to why bother with self-care!

Like I said last week, there’s a tonne of articles out there already on the benefits to self-care, and me chucking another regurgitated round of how healthy and awesome we’ll feel-

Well… I don’t feel like it’s gonna cut it. So I’m not adding another to the collection…

Instead, I thought we’d settle in for a story (and journal prompt if you’re up for it) as a way to explore the ideas we looked at in part one, and why we should bother with self-care!

Brew at the ready?

What We Can Learn From the Selfishness of a Tree…

In the midst of a rocky field that stretched out in every direction as far as the eye could see, stood a lone tree.

A magnificent olive tree whose branches twisted to the skies, dressed in hundreds of thousands of glossy green leaves and glittering clusters of olives.

Below, the ground was bejewelled with the ripest of them all- where the olive tree loved to watch its friends; the creatures that called it home, play, feast, and work amongst them all day long!

On a scorching summer’s day, a strange two-legged creature staggered up to the cooling shade of the tree’s mighty shadow- a man! The olive tree guessed excitedly, remembering the tales a passing crow had once told of an animal, that walked on its hind legs and changed its plumage at will with the strange things it wore on itself…

Whilst the tree puzzled over whether the crow had mentioned man could fly, the man was huffing and puffing his way over the last of the rocks, before collapsing in a heap- narrowly missing a trail of ants, as he splayed himself out under the boughs of the tree.

Perhaps not- the tree decided, observing the wingless, breathless man fervently wipe away the sweat from his brow with the back of his arm. In awe of such an unusual creature, the tree continued to watch the man silently as he wearily gathered some stray olives together, before popping them into his mouth with an “mmmm” sound.

Happy at seeing the mans contentment, the tree shook a few more down for him…

“These are really good!” The tree watched the two-legged creature circle its trunk, praising its lustrous leaves, and the size and deliciousness of the olives that sparkled on the branches above him-

“How’d you get so strong out here?” The man asked through a mouthful of them.

Patience.” The tree responded thoughtfully. “And I ensure my needs are fulfilled to grow to my best potential!”

It watched the man’s gleeful face suddenly turn into a fierce frown…

Well that sounds pretty selfish.” The man spat.

W-what do you mean?” The tree felt unnerved at this sudden turn.

“I mean, only thinking of yourself! Taking what you need, no doubt when you want it too– do you even think about the others that might need what you’re taking for your greedy self?” The man fumed, tossing the remaining olives in his palm over his shoulder. “Do you even give anything back from what you take?” He scoffed, cutting off the tree’s confused protests-

Of course you don’t! How else would you get to be so wealthy in your health?” – With that, the man turned on his heel and marched back out over the burning rocks, exclaiming loudly of “selfishness” and “sin.”

His angry words ate away at the tree. Never before had the idea of taking care of its needs, seemed like a bad thing… It made the olive tree tremble in thinking who it may have hurt with its selfishness. Even after its friends had exhausted all their ideas on insisting they had everything they needed, it had done little to dissuade the tree from its new-found doubt.

“But you could have more!” The tree had wailed- “if only I weren’t so selfish!”
“But we don’t want more!” The friends cried in protest…

The horrible feeling that had filled the olive tree only proved to it that the man was right. Why else would it feel so guilty if it weren’t true? Perhaps then, acting less selfishly would make this guilt and shame go away?

And so, the tree resolved that it would no longer take what it needed. It would only let everyone else get their fill first!

Day after day the tree worked tirelessly to ensure everyone was taken care of in every way it could. Refusing to ask for anything, but freely giving away every last drop of water, food, and energy- it made the horrible feeling that had once filled every branch, disappear- the tree was back to feeling good again!

But as the seasons changed, the tree changed less so...

By the start of spring, where the branches and leaves would normally be waving and welcoming the warming air, instead remained as barren and bitter as the winter winds that had stripped them bare. But still the tree tiredly continued on.

As summer rolled around, not a single olive shone in the afternoon sun. The ground below was dry and lifeless- the tree’s friends, having with heavy hearts long before, moved elsewhere, unable to survive themselves around the tree anymore.

“YOU ARE SELFISH!” The tree had scorned their retreating backs. “All of this was for you!

Weary and woeful, another horrible feeling had grown on the tree. No one appreciated its selflessness– no-one appreciated it had sacrificed all it had to give them so much more… Good riddance the tree had thought sourly, ignoring all the times its friends had pleaded for it to take care of itself again.

By summers end, the tree couldn’t feel or think of anything else anymore except how tired and sad it felt. Still it stubbornly carried on.

On the first day of fall, underneath a brilliant blue sky, a curious rattling sound echoed out across the rocks…

The tired tree exhaustively lifted a burnt-out branch against the afternoon sun to see the man clambering towards it, an assortment of buckets, bags, and tools strapped to his back-

A look of horror slowly taking over his face…

“What on earth happened here!” The man strode around the tree, becoming more frustrated with every turn. “The olives!” He cried, “where are the olives?

“You were right-”

The tree whispered, no energy left to speak any louder. “I WAS selfish- so I only gave! I thought about everyone else first, just like you said and-“

“Well that’s just great…” The man sighed, but the tree did not spy any approval on his face. “Now what am I supposed to do!” He wailed kicking one of his buckets- and with that, the tree once again watched the man furiously clatter back out over the rocks, muttering darkly to himself of selfishness and sin

Poor tree. It can’t seem to do right for doing wrong!

Next week, we’ll be diving in to this story a little deeper- and covering some of those benefits I mentioned earlier- but till then, I’ll leave you to ponder what this story means to you- with some journal prompts to help you explore your why bother question more intimately!

Journal Prompt:
Q- What does this story tell you about why you should bother with self-care?

You can think about things like- what emotions or thoughts arose about your own self-care reading this story? Why do you feel or think these things? What similarities did you notice between yourself and the tree? How do you feel about the way the tree treated itself?

Thank you for joining me today! If you’re feeling brave, share your thoughts in the comments- I’d love to hear them!

"See you next Sunday!"



I’m Q. My mission is to figure out how to live a healthy, happy, and conscious life, on this unstable floating rock in space- through the pages of journals and the nurturing of nature. Read more of my story here…

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