Skip to main content

Resilience - "I will bend, but not break!"

By Stephen C. Schultz

Spelled [ri-zil-yuh ns]
1. The power or ability to return to the original form, position, after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity.

The day started out better than most. It was Saturday morning and a cool 64 degrees. I stepped out the back door and turned the sprinklers on. I glanced skyward to the sound of about 15 Canadian “honkers”, flying in the standard V formation. The sky was blue, not a cloud in sight. Fall time at 5000 feet is a beautiful time of year.

Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of a reflection beyond the fence and noticed a pool of water that did not represent the amount of time that the sprinklers were on. It was under a hemlock and I had never seen the water pool up like that before. So, I stepped around the fence to get a better look. I couldn’t see very well from my current vantage point and decided that the only way to get a good look was to dash into the yard…yes, I would get wet!

As I ran into the yard next to the 100 year old birch tree, I saw water gurgling up out of the ground and flowing along the fence. This was not a good sign. I stood there for just a moment surveying the situation and then ran, hunched over, back towards the driveway. (I’m not sure why I hunched over…it’s not like each water droplet was incoming artillery! Although it might as well have been the way I was zig-zagging and running through the grass!)
I turned the sprinklers off and went back over to where the water welled up out of the ground. This was quickly going from a good day to not so good. The water was coming out of the ground near the base of the 100 year old birch tree. The water meant that there was probably a broken pipe. The pipe was most likely cracked do to pressure from the roots of the birch tree. The pipe was a metal pipe and was not very resilient in the face of the constant pressure from the root.  I knew I could fix the pipe, that wasn’t the problem. The problem was getting to the pipe. No doubt, I would be digging through roots…not only the birch tree roots, but the roots of the hemlock as well. I now had a day long project.

I walked up to the garage and grabbed a shovel and a pick. As I turned to head back to the tree, Ryan my 17 yr old son stepped out the back door and met me in the driveway. We walked back to the muddy site and he stood there, surveying the situation. I explained that if we dig where the water is coming out of the ground, we may or may not find the pipe. The chances were pretty good that the pipe was broken somewhere else and the water was simply following the path of least resistance along a root somewhere until it gurgled through to the surface.

I handed Ryan the pick and I took the shovel. We started digging. We eventually found the pipe, it took a few hours, but we found it. And, we were able to share an experience and work side by side, father and son. While this was one of those father/son “work in the yard” moments, it wasn’t the reason for this particular post. I’ve been thinking about this experience not in terms of father and son but in terms of water and roots.

That pipe was put in the ground at least 50 years ago. Over time, the tree grew, life happened. The pressure associated with life started to affect the pipe. At first the pipe bent and dealt with the pressure just fine. As I dug deeper, it was apparent that this pipe was being pressured at many different points by many different roots. There were three or four large roots applying pressure, some over the top and others underneath. As Ryan and I worked to repair the pipe, we first had to cut away some of the roots. Some were small enough to pull away by hand. Others required the use of pruning shears and on a few of them we needed a small saw.

How often do we find ourselves battling the pressure in life?  For most of us it’s every day…life happens. The question then becomes, “How do we prune the roots of pressure in our lives so we bend, but don’t break?” The natural tendency is to ignore the problem. But, I can assure you that the broken pipe would not have fixed itself! Sometimes it may be small things we have to change. Other times, the course corrections in life are major. Sometimes it is important for us to make changes in ourselves. In other instances, we need to intervene in the life of a loved one. In either situation, it’s nice to have a close friend or family member there to share in the burden of inconvenience, provide some much needed feedback and lighten the work load a bit. While I could have accomplished all that was needed to fix the pipe by myself, it was nice to have my son there by my side.

re·sil·ience/Spelled [ri-zil-yuh ns]  noun
2. Ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.


judithwelltree said…
Great story and a powerful analogy! Really made me think about 'intervention'-sometimes we hang back too long in fear of interfering!

Popular posts from this blog

Perfectly Wicked - A new take on an old fairy tale!

Guest Blogger Amanda Schultz Age 15 There she was…hair as black as night, lips as red as blood, skin as white as snow. Standing by the window, washing dishes, whistling while she worked. Snow White. I shudder with disgust every time I hear her name. What kind of a name is that anyway? “Snow White”. Gahhh, it’s a name that practically begs to be made fun of. Yet, there she goes, frolicking around like she owns the Enchanted Forest. No. I’m the Queen. I’m in charge. My magic mirror was mistaken. I’m the Fairest of them all, not that sorry excuse for a princess. One bite from my poison apple and that air-head will be so ugly not even her mother could love her. And I will be the Fairest once again! I suppose that I should rewind a little bit. It wasn’t always a competition between Snow White and me. In fact, back in the day, we had a nice little system going on. I would rule the kingdom and practice my magic, while Snow did the dishes and tended the garden. She stayed out of my w

Lessons I learned from a childhood experience with bullying

By Stephen C. Schultz The dew around the window was starting to bead up. In a classic case of chaos theory, the little beads of water gave way to gravity and randomly bounced and bumped their way to the window sill like a steal marble in a pinball game. There was a small pool of water in the cracked and peeling beige paint. I sat facing the window, staring at the small engraved stone nestled in the flower beds. There weren’t many flowers at this time of year. Mostly rhododendrons and Oregon grapes reaching skyward from the damp bark mulch that covered the planter area.   The month of January in Eugene Oregon was filled with days and days of mist and fog.   In fact, pretty much from October through June was filled with fog, rain, mist, showers, freezing rain and occasionally snow. The local weathermen didn’t bother with predictions about the chance of precipitation; they took pride in developing new adjectives to describe the type of precipitation and how much you can expect.

An Open Letter to Parents Researching RedCliff Ascent

By Stephen C. Schultz "We will be known forever by the tracks we leave." Having been raised in Oregon, I spent the majority of my childhood and teenage year’s steelhead fishing the coastal waters, climbing the Middle Sister in the Cascade Mountain Range, drifting the McKenzie River and hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.  I have mentioned to friends, family and colleagues on many occasions;   “From a therapeutic standpoint, there is no better place to have a student’s issues manifested quickly than in a wilderness setting.” The question then becomes, “Why do therapeutic issues rise to the surface in an Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare program like RedCliff Ascent ?” Throughout the years of teenage development, most teens spend a lot of time with friends. These friends think the same, dress the same, act the same, listen to the same music and sometimes get into the same types of trouble. Some teens also develop patterns of communication and manipulation