How trees in Tofino get around an obstacle in their path

What do you do when there is an obstacle in the way of you getting what you want?

This is a question I pondered while I was hiking in beautiful Tofino over my birthday week. What do I normally do when there is an obstacle in my way? It could be a person, event or thing and figuring out how I coped with obstacles was something that I had really considered before. I am a push through it kinda gal and if something stopped me in my tracks where I could not just push on through, I typically find myself at a standstill, unsure of what to do.

While hiking (and if you have not been to Tofino in British Columbia, I highly recommend it) I started to notice cedar trees that were not following the typical growth pattern – sprouting from the ground and growing straight up, reaching for the sun and sky.

Nope – these trees had a huge bend in them – actually two significant bends. The trunks were solid and large in circumference now, but when they started growing something – an obstacle- stood in their path so they could not continue their trajectory straight up.

So they bent. The bent to the left or to the right and the bends were significant and long. This was not just a little bend, but a defined right angle that went on for a number of feet before the tree bent another 90 degrees and headed towards the sky.

This was amazing to me and still is. These trees hit a point in their growth where it was deemed impossible to continue to grow in the exact same direction as the other trees around them. They had a choice (if trees have choices). Either they stop growing and let nature reduce them back to becoming part of the ground they came from or they change direction and get around the obstacle in their way by growing in a different way.

The metaphor in all of this astounded me. These majestic trees were not weak little saplings but Strong, Beautiful trees – so unique in their look that you could not help but notice them. They stood out in the forest of otherwise “perfect” trees that grew straight up.

These trees had character, they also grew straight up towards the sun and sky, but only after they got past whatever it was that was in their way.

That last point is significant. I could not see any obstacle anymore. There was nothing that I could find that blocked these beautiful trees from growing straight up from the ground. Nothing was visible.

It left me pondering – these trees clearly had something holding them back and yet, they morphed themselves – they grew in a different direction so they could move beyond whatever it was that held them back, only to morph again in order to continue to grow upwards towards the sky. But where was the obstacle that stood in their way? It was gone.

In our own lives, we encounter so many obstacles each and every day. We are all on our own path growing towards something – a goal, or a dream – and life will throw us a curveball that may stop us in our tracks. The trick is to figure out how to get past the obstacle.

We could decide to wither away and stop pursuing what we want for ourselves or we could bend like the tree and find a way around the obstacle in our path – learning and growing as we go until we find a way to continue that trajectory upwards. The end result of bending makes us stronger because of our efforts and have more character and uniqueness than those around us.

By choosing the latter option, like the trees, the obstacles that were once in our way become a problem from our distant past. They could have held us back from being who we want to be and doing what we want to do, but we did not allow them to.

By finding a way around them and forging ahead while creating our own path we create the future we want for ourselves and the obstacles that could have stopped us no longer exist. They become a distant memory that has no impact on us anymore.

How can you be more like the beautiful, unique cedar trees? Where can you bend at a 90-degree angle to keep moving towards what you want for yourself?

Be like those trees. And soon the thing that stood in your way will not even be a blip on your radar anymore. It will have little impact on you and your journey around it, and the learning you get from morphing yourself to move in a new direction will make you stronger and more focused on your long-term success.

Don’t let obstacles in your path throw you off course. They can be overcome and you can and will triumph because of your ability to bend, grow in a new way and continue your journey to the sky.

Read Part Two – What to Do When the Obstacle in your way is YOU here.

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