During the month of January this year, I am going to share with you some of my favorite books and why I love them. I don't have a fully formed list yet, but most likely, these books are going to be children's books. Why? Because I love a well-formed tale with a lesson, and nothing beats a beautifully illustrated book. When I was teaching, I regularly used children's books to illustrate a point or highlight a particular concept I wanted to really stick.
So, story time.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Now I know, there are a lot of negative opinions about this book. Environmentalists hate that the tree is cut down; the boy is selfish, self-involved, and narcissistic; co-dependency; etc.
Let me tell you why I love this book: it illustrates the pure joy of giving. And the gift doesn't have to be a physical thing; it can just be the presence of another (loved one). The tree embraces selfless love and unquestioning generosity ... just like a parent, just like a friend. I'm not suggesting that self-sacrifice (as the tree exemplifies) is necessarily a good thing, nor a sustainable thing. Clearly, this is a children's story, and in that sense, perhaps things are a bit exaggerated. But. Selfless generosity is a rare and beautiful quality, right?
We humans spend a lot of energy (and money, frankly) pursuing happiness. What if happiness came from just being and enjoying? What if happiness came from the joy of being with a friend? What if we found the happiness in our own hearts? Stuff and having more stuff does not make us happy; it just gives us cluttered cupboards.
I hope you have a tree in your life.