Walking through Paddington Cemetery this image of trees in very different stages of life reminded me of Shel Silverstein’s story, The Giving Tree. Whenever I read that story I believed the tree was the boy’s mother, who sacrificed everything she had, even her body, to help him survive. As a girl I despised the boy for being so greedy and inept that he needed her to sacrifice herself. Now I look back on that story with fondness because it explains so much about the human relationship with everything, from our environment to politics to family. It’s a mirror that reminds us how much we take from this world and from one another without giving back. I read it now as both a warning and a comfort, in that I can choose to take less than that boy even though the gifts are freely offered because their acceptance could lead to the ruin of us both. Caring for that which sustains us is a privilege, and we should follow a path where we all flourish.


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  1. I felt the same way about THE GIVING TREE story when I first read it. I didn’t read it until I was in my early 20’s and I was deeply moved but found it to be bittersweet. I like your adult take on it as a warning.

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