I stumbled across an unknown author’s short story called “The Trouble Tree.” While my finding of this story was unintentional, it was incredibly meaningful all the same.
Life is full of ups and downs. Some days are more stressful than others, and at the end of a long troublesome day, it can be difficult to disconnect from whatever stressors affect us. We sometimes can’t help but carry our struggles and stresses of the day into our home, our safe space. What should be our comfort zone for ourselves and our families can become riddled with unnecessary stress and strife. This is the last thing we want to deal with, isn’t it?
How can we switch modes so that we leave all the nonsense behind when our long days are over?
I think it’s time we talk about it because our families, roommates, and even our pets deserve a happy less-stressed version of us. We have to train ourselves to leave our tough days outside the door, allowing ourselves to focus on a more positive vibe in our home.
By now, you’re probably wondering what any of this has to do with the story I mentioned. For those of you unfamiliar with the story, let me give you a bit of a recap, and you’ll understand how it all correlates. For me, “The Trouble Tree’” was an excellent example of how to leave our worries and stress at the door.
The story goes something like this.
A carpenter was hired to help a gentleman restore an old farmhouse. Said carpenter finished his first day on the job, and anything that could’ve gone wrong, did. On his way to work, he ended up with a flat tire costing him an hour’s worth of pay.
The carpenter finally made it to work, and his electric saw broke. At the end of his first day on the job, his old truck wouldn’t start. The man who hired him offered to give the carpenter a ride home. The carpenter sat in silence the entire trip to his house, staring out the window.
When the two men arrived at the carpenter’s home, the carpenter invited his new boss inside to meet his family. As the men walked toward the front door, the carpenter stopped briefly at a small tree just outside. He stood silently, touching the tips of the tree’s branches with both hands. Upon opening the front door, the carpenter seemed to undergo a transformation.
The carpenter’s face wore a huge smile as he hugged his little ones and wife. His boss had noticed everything happening. After meeting the family, the carpenter politely walked his boss back to his vehicle to say thank you for the ride and kindness. The boss’s curiosity about the time at the tree got the best of him, so he had to ask the carpenter about the tree outside the front door.
“I noticed before you entered your house you stopped to touch the tree outside; why?” asked the boss.
“Oh, that’s my Trouble Tree, sir,” replied the carpenter.
“I know I can’t keep from having troubles from time to time, but I know one thing for sure… my stress doesn’t belong inside my home with my family. So, instead of carrying worries in with me, I hang them up on the tree every night before I head inside. Then in the morning, I’ll pick them up again.”
“The funny thing about it is,” he said with a smile, “when I come out in the morning to pick those problems back up, there doesn’t seem to be as many as I recall from the night before!”
I know it sounds easier than it might be, but we should all come up with our own symbolic ‘Trouble Tree’ so we can leave our problems at the door instead of carrying the weight inside. All we have to do is get into the habit. Whether you take a minute to practice some deep breathing, ground yourself, handle a stone, or reach out to a tree, there’s something we can do to keep from carrying our troubles inside our comfort zone.