Livelihoods

In a similar perspective as discussed in the climate change lesson, it is important to focus on what to create rather than on what to avoid. The focus on “avoiding poverty” is misguided. Rather the focus needs to be on “creating abundance”. Moreover, there are many who see the movement away from full-time permanent jobs as such a hard thing and say “Oh, I am so glad I am not a young person today starting out in the world”. Do not be fooled by this kind of mentality. We live in a world where we have endless opportunity to create and recreate our occupations. This is an asset not a detriment.

Here is my story about a Majestic Oak Tree teaching a sapling about what it is to create with dirt. You can also listen to the story here on my website. I recognize this does not speak to what you will individually create within your chosen profession – for that is something you already know or will discover. It is important to remember each one of us can create something beautiful every single day.

The Majestic Oak Tree by Julia Burke (2016)

Once upon a time there was a big beautiful Oak Tree. This Oak Tree had grown deep down into the ground with roots that stretched far into the soil below. Its trunk and limbs stretched high into the sky. Its leaves were beautiful and shone and sparkled in the sunlight.

Around this beautiful Oak Tree, there were a number of saplings growing in the sunshine. They said to the Oak Tree, “Why are you so large and grand? You should not be so tall. You should be small like us – just little saplings.”

The Oak Tree laughed, “that is such a silly thing to say. I cannot be small like you. I am a big, beautiful, grand and majestic oak tree. I could not be a sapling even if I tried. The seeds that fall from my branches, they can be saplings, but not I . I am a big, beautiful oak tree.”

The other saplings around said, “we do not like that. We do not like that you are such a grand and large oak tree. We feel rather small beside you.”

The Oak Tree laughed, “well then grow little saplings, grow. You are in the same dirt as I. You receive the same sunshine as I. You breathe in the same air, the same oxygen. You have the same process of photosynthesis to create fuel. Do not be upset with my own grandeur. Simply grow saplings. That is what you are to do is grow.”

The saplings pouted “I don’t know what this grand old Oak Tree is talking about this dirt. It is dark and I don’t even like dirt.”

The grand old Oak Tree laughed again “You do not like dirt? Ah, I see. It is not that you do not like dirt. It is that you do not know how to create from dirt. For dirt is the most beautiful of all. Dirt can become anything. I have taken the dirt and have become a beautiful oak tree. I reach high into the sky. My leaves shimmer in the sunlight. I provide a home for the birds that nestle into my branches and build their nests and raise their young. I am a tree. I turn colour in the seasons. I filter water below me. I breathe in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. I create fuel from light. I am a tree. And I began as a seed in the dirt.”

“Dirt is the most beautiful canvas. Look at how the golden wheat in the fields create with dirt – the pink lady slippers and brilliantly bright sunflowers. Dirt is the most wonderful thing of all for. It is the beginning of all creation – simply dust. God gave us dirt.We create with dirt little saplings. Look around and see all the beings around you creating with dirt – wonderful, wonderful dirt!”

The saplings were speechless.They had never heard someone talk about dirt in this way before. It was only dirt.

Then one of the saplings started to wiggle her own roots a little bit. In this dirt, she started to grow a little deeper. In this dirt, she started to discover all the goodness there in the dirt – the minerals and the water – all the sustenance that allowed her to live and grow.

And then, she began to sprout her own leaves.

She looked at her leaves and said, “Wow, aren’t you beautiful?” And then sprouted another leaf. “Woah, Oak Tree you are right. Look, look I am growing. Look at my leaves. They are beautiful!”

And the Oak Tree said, “Yes, yes little Sapling, your leaves are beautiful.”

Reflections

After reading the story, reflect on the questions below:

  • What does the Oak Tree create?
  • How is your occupation (or future occupation) an expression of your creativity?
  • What do you enjoy creating with “dirt”?
  • How can you incorporate further creativity into the work you do?

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