Naked Strength

The Oak by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Live thy Life,
Young and old,
Like yon oak,
Bright in spring,
Living gold; 

Summer-rich
Then; and then
Autumn-changed
Soberer-hued
Gold again.

All his leaves
Fall’n at length,
Look, he stands,
Trunk and bough
Naked strength.

I remember when as a young man I used to wish that I were older so that I might have more wisdom, capability and resources. Looking back at these youthful desires, I see now that each age, each chapter of life contains in it the seeds of perfection, the ideal starting points for the expression of truth and beauty.

If ever you find yourself wishing you were someone else, somewhere else or in another time, be it past or future, stop for a moment and take an honest inventory. Rather than plead for a different set of circumstances, resources, talents or abilities, look instead to identify and call by name those elements present within you and around you that can be put to creative use without further development or manipulation.

When the world is pressing in on you, leaving you little wiggle room, you can tap into an inexhaustible wellspring within you. Your access to that spring changes as you move through life and if you age gracefully, which is possible only by means of an abiding sense of appreciation for where you now are, you’ll find that your ability to tap into that wellspring increases rather than diminishes.

6 thoughts on “Naked Strength

  1. Zach

    As you call forth the resources that you currently have, you strengthen your position and ensure that you will have more resources in the future. By wishing for something that you don’t have and taking no action, you are only setting yourself up for failure.

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  2. Steve Ventola

    Thank you for calling attention to the elements we individually have that can be put to creative use. Doing what we can do is such a simple statement that brings the stature of The Oak.

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  3. Ricardo B.

    This is a great example of tempering the energy of desire which always carries some amount of fancy to that which is more real and immediately accessible. These are the open doors of today which lead you into the days of tomorrow, and oddly enough the ideal conditions of one’s imagination become irrelevant. Life is what is relevant and the present moment becomes all we have which is all it’s ever been. Can this be accepted in kind, no exceptions, without compromise?

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  4. Carolyn Skye

    Fantastic essay! I am going to share this with my senior English class. To have wisdom like this conveyed in the coming of age years is a great blessing!

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  5. Strawberryfield

    Wishing things were different seems an almost universal past time. This endeavor robs us of the ability to act fully in the present that could complement the changes that occur naturally. Like the seasons in the beautiful poem depict, there is always the inexorable metamorphose of life. Learning to harmonize with life instead of fighting it is sensible and I think would reveal a elegance that gets destroyed when we don’t. Beautiful reminder, thank you.

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