Friday, March 23, 2018

On Giving

One of my favorite books of all time is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. It was first published in 1964 and like many writers, he had trouble getting it published. I’ve given this book away as graduation presents because I think the message, or rather messages, is so powerful. I find myself referring back to it often and this morning in particular.

The story is about an apple tree and a boy. They develop a relationship and while the tree is very "giving”, the boy takes: as a teenager, then as a man, and finally, as an elderly man.

At first the boy plays with the tree, climbing the trunk and swinging from its branches. He even carves "Me + T (Tree)" into the bark and eats the apples. Then like most of us, kids in particular, the boy grows older and spends less time with the tree and tends to visit it only when he wants something. As the boy gets older, the tree continues to give: money (from her apples), a house (from her branches), and a boat (from her trunk). And it should be noted that at each stage of the boy’s life, "the Tree was happy".

However as you progress towards the end of the book, resentment develops on the part of the boy and on the part of the tree. At the very end, only a stump remains. The boy returns as a tired old man. The tree tells him she is sad because she cannot provide him shade, apples, or anything else like it was able to in the past. The boy (now the old man) tells the tree that all he wants is "a quiet place to sit and rest." So the tree gives once more, a final time, and "the tree was happy".

At its simplest, The Giving Tree is about giving and taking because if one gives, another takes. You see, in order for someone to give, someone else has to receive it (take it). Can’t work anyway else, right?

And if we give, we can do so with a heart full of love and compassion and caring and . . . Or, we can do so reluctantly or expecting something in return, which then muddies the giving. The reasons become tainted and the receiver (taker) can become resentful. This is especially so if there are strings attached to the giving.

And if the taker is less than grateful and does not express gratitude to the giver, then the giver becomes less inclined to give in the future, especially to the taker who is less than loving in response to the giver.

So what does all of this mean? What does all of this have to do with you and with me?

As a parent, as a teacher, even as a human being with any sort of heart at all, we give! That’s what we do! It’s in our job description and I would suggest that we became parents or teachers, even developed as a fully functioning human being, because it is in our nature to give. As I said, it’s something we do!

And each of us from time to time takes. Gifts. Suggestions. Orders. Reprimands. Obviously, we enjoy some, while the others . . . not so much.

Many times the giving isn’t “a something” like an object, like a present. But rather, the give of love, of kindness, of care, of concern. Sometimes it is a touch, a smile, a wink. And how we receive it (take it) means so much to the giver. And as a giver, sometimes we realize that in a moment of vulnerability, of hurt, the receiver isn’t all that ready to receive it properly, but in the course of time, in the course of a softening of the heart, or as my mom would say, “When the dust settles,” there will be the proper receiving of the gift from the giver.

So don’t give up! Don’t despair.

In time, just like the little boy who grew into the old man, he finally recognized and realized the value of the tree. It took time. There was some resentment on the part of the tree. But in the end, like an old friend in the passing of time, both the giver and the taker, can and will remain friends. Bound to happen, I guess. Because we’ve all been there. Each of us at one time or another. Each of us. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

I had the opportunity to be interviewed in advance of my new book, Caught in a Web, launching April 26, by Fiona Mcvie from Ireland. She asked some really interesting questions and I enjoyed myself. If you are interested, you can read it at

If you are interested in getting a copy of Caught in a Web, in the thriller/suspense genre, it is now available for preorder at . If you purchase your book prior to the publication date of April 26, 2018, you may use the promo code: PREORDER2018 to receive a 10% discount. I hope you check it out.

Here is what it is about:

The bodies of high school and middle school kids are found dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. The drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors and the Milwaukee Metro area is controlled by MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador. Ricardo Fuentes is sent from Chicago to Waukesha to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson. But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay, who had killed his cousin the previous summer.

Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else, especially George or members of his family. The three detectives discover the ring has its roots in a high school among the students and staff.

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Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

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Thank you for your comment. I welcome your thought. Joe