The trouble tree

A story I’ve shared a few times over the years is the one about the trouble tree. It goes like this.

David’s plumber had just had a rough day. He had a flat tyre on his way to work, his drill quit and his truck refused to start. David drove the distraught man home.

Just before they entered home, the plumber paused briefly at a tree, touching its tips. He then opened the door and underwent an amazing transformation. He hugged his kids, kissed his wife and was all smiles!

Afterwards, when David was walking out, he asked his plumber about his behavior. The plumber he said – ‘Every day, I leave all my work troubles at the tree before walking in. The funny thing is when I come in the morning to pick them up, there aren’t as many as I left.’

I shared this story a year ago as I was reflecting on a period where this routine completely broke down.

I realized that my version of the routine was my drive home from work pre-pandemic. When that routine fell apart, so did any sense of separation.

I’ve been working to re-create this separation over the past weeks. And I’ve come to realize that a combination of writing a quick reflection for the day before shutting down my laptop, keeping my gadgets away, and taking a shower works well. All three are ideal – but any two do a good job creating separation.

That separation in turn helps us be present.