AS OF the time of writing, our resource speaker, Dr. Nick Capulong introduced his lecture through a short video which narrates the story of a tree which gave itself up in wanting to make a boy happy. The said story is based on a picture book for children written and illustrated by Shel Siverstein and first published by Harper & Row in 1964. Being one of Silverstein’s most famous titles, “The Giving Tree” has been translated in many languages and adopted into short animated videos.
The story shows a female tree which loved a little boy more than she loved herself. When the boy was little, he would play around, climb, and swing at the branches of the tree, which made the tree very happy. For a long time, the boy did not play around the tree. This is why the tree was very sad. One day, the boy came back and the tree asked him to come and play around. But the boy asked if the tree can give him money. Because the tree only wants to make the boy happy, she asked the boy to take all her apples and sell them so he would have money. So the boy took all the apples, sold them, and earned money. The tree was happy.
The boy once again disappeared for some time, and when he came back, the tree invited him once more to come and play around her. But the boy wanted to have a boat, this is why the tree offered the boy her trunk which the little boy would turn into a boat so he could sail away. So the boy cut down the trunk of the tree, and made it into a wooden boat and sailed away. The tree was happy.
While the boy was gone, the tree was sad. And so when the boy came back again, the tree was happy, but she said, "I am sorry, Boy, but I have nothing left to give you. My apples are gone. My branches are gone, you cannot swing on them. My trunk is gone, there’s nothing you can climb on. I wish that I could give you something... but I have nothing left. I am an old stump. I am sorry..."
The boy replied, "My teeth are too weak for apples. I am too old to swing on branches. I am too tired to climb. I don't need very much now, just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired." Upon hearing this, the tree straightened herself up and finally said, "Well, an old stump is a good for sitting and resting. Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest." And the boy did. And the tree was happy.
This short anecdote indeed inspires all of us to be more giving and more sacrificing, even up to a point of giving up everything just to make someone we love so much happy. However, in the course of loving someone as deeply as the tree loved the boy, we must also put in our hearts and minds, that we should also love ourselves so that we can love others more fully and reasonably. As the famous saying goes, we should love ourselves first before we love others. It is truly impossible for us to give ourselves to someone if in that process of loving, we empty ourselves out of our great sacrifice and love for the other person, and in the end, there is nothing left in us to give anymore.