...I should not be so humble...but you are a harsh critic and should not be prodded...hmmm standard? or double standard...hmmm..."
The grove is full of trees, many different types of trees. Some of them are in full blossom; the dogwood, the apple, the peach. They are well-tended, showing off their inherent beauty. Others are not taken care of so well. Their blooms are sparce, the colors not quite so brilliant.
I have an image of myself high in a tree, climbing, always reaching for something higher. I hook a knee over here, hang my arm over there, shifting my weight from branch to branch as I ascend into the canopy.
Sometimes I'll see someone in a tree nearby stuck on a branch, unable to progress higher. I can see that he will make it if he shifts (just so) or if he prunes away a branch that is crowding the others. I see this from my vantage point so I call to him with encouragement. I let out a whoop when he nails it, knowing that his tree will have bigger blossoms which in turn will yield better fruit.
If I have to, I will climb down my tree and shimmy up his to hold some of his weight upon my shoulders, to point out the proper way to trim. "Cut here, see?" Once he is boosted, I will return to my own tree.
Me, I don't need help. I am strong enough to bear my own weight and then some. I can climb my tree on my own. Can't I?
My tree is dense with the ideals and expectations that I hold for myself, plus the expectations put on me before the I had started my climb. I expect more of myself. I hold myself to higher standards. It is not easy navigating up this tree. It shouldn't be easy. Nothing worth having is easy, right? Some branches are thinner than others. They don't hold as much weight. I climb up into the dark understory winding my way this way and that, moving a little higher.
I step on one too weak to hold me. It snaps leaving me foundering, head over tea kettle, until I land squarely on the ground. Laid out flat on my stomach, the air is knocked out of me. I am left stunned. I am not what I thought I was... The scratches of my failure burn along my skin. My head aches from banging against the branches that have held strongly in place. I firmly stiffen my jaw, determined to make it on my own. I brush myself off and climb again until I am facing that jagged branch that let me down, a remnant of another failure.
"Look there...Do you see it?" I feel tense at the voice that has come up behind me. I need to do this myself.
I try to put off the voice, studying the damage instead. He holds me up despite myself. "Finish cutting that clean. You don't need it" I find my resolve weakening as I slowly trim it down, smoothing the edges. Did I really need this one? "Feel the air? It is fresher. Do you see it? The shaft of light?" It IS easier to manuveur, I notice, relaxing a little. I feel a little lighter. "You should trim out those others too, the weak ones. Those aren't really you are they? The tree will grow better less crowded" He is sounding like me. "Imagine the blossoms next spring!"
He is right of course. I couldn't see it from where I sat dangling my legs. The answer was right in front of my nose shaded by my own doubts. If I could show others, why shouldn't I accept them showing me? I continued pruning the weak ideals that were never truly mine. My heart felt a little freer. As I continued up the tree to saw off some lofty expectations, he returned to his own. I just needed a little standard adjustment.