When we bought our house 10 years ago, we inherited a garden of lovely, well-established plants from the previous homeowner: hostas, peonies, hydrangeas, daffodils, burning bushes, and a petite Japanese maple just starting out in life. While we’re both tree huggers, I can’t say I have the same green thumb as my husband. Nate however has the touch. He spent years pruning and shaping the growing young tree, and it was a stunner!
Cue a surprise roof replacement (hooray!) and, well… the contractors doing the work dropped the old roof on the tree (boo!). Snapped in half, cleaving the beautifully trimmed top clean off.
The business owner was super apologetic and promised to buy us a replacement Japanese maple tree in the spring because naturally, snapping a young tree in half typically means it’s done.
But come springtime, this tree was stubbornly putting out shoots from the wrecked trunk. Yes, they were sad, straggly little shoots but still, there was life! So we left it. No replacement tree. And do you know what happened? Our little tree grew to three times the size it had been in the Year of the Great Roof Collapse. It’s still a beautiful tree, and if you peek through the full foliage, you can see the jagged scar from when it was snapped in half and how the new branches grew around it. Not only is it remarkable to see what this tree managed to do, but we can also learn something from its example.
We, too, can have our scars: old injuries, health conditions, aging, imperfections, trauma. Whether temporary setbacks or chronic problems, these scars will alter our path in life, just as the damage to the tree forced its branches to grow around the wounded trunk. And when this happens, we have a choice to make.
When we undergo trauma, there’s a natural tendency to lose ourselves in thinking about what might have been if we hadn't been broken?
That’s understandable. It would have been super cool if the builders didn’t drop a roof on our tree in the first place. But life happens. Life has happened and will happen to you too, from a twisted ankle that throws your training back a week to something much more soul crushing that never leaves you.
Physical and emotional scars could lead you to give up on fitness. It may feel daunting to adapt to your new path, and what might have been may haunt you. But these setbacks don’t mean we can’t still flourish, like those stubborn little shoots on the tree, and be the best we can be in our current circumstances. Changed, yes. Different from what we might have been, yes. But still here living, even thriving!
We can’t know what the tree might have become if it hadn’t snapped in half. We don’t know if another tree in the same circumstances would have fared worse or better, or even have been able to recover at all. We don’t know how hard it was for that little tree to do what it did. But this Japanese maple bounced back to be its best current self: a beautiful, healthy tree continuing to grow. That’s what matters: the here and now, not the what-might-have-beens and the if-onlys.
Like that tree, humans are remarkably resilient and adaptable creatures. Adapting to your new fitness path might mean modified workouts, exercises you’ll never do again, or extra TLC to make the next workout possible. Maybe your limitations mean you can only focus on your nutrition. And maybe, the weight from your invisible scars makes one clean meal or one rep feel like an impossible feat.
But no matter what, there is honor in meeting yourself where you are and doing what you can do.
Even if you can only manage straggly little shoots at first, one meal, one workout at a time, you can bounce back and choose to live your best fit life!
Miranda Belle-Isle // Kenzai Community Manager