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The Old Gnarly Tree – A Moral Story

A Taoist fable about a gnarly old tree

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The old tree fable

Hi Folks,

Here is another little Taoist tale I’d like to share with you…

In a large forest there was an old, gnarled, ugly tree. This tree was short and stumpy. Its branches were twisted and bent.

The other trees in the forest were tall, imposing and beautiful. Their barks were smooth. Their trunks were straight and lifted up to heaven. Their branches were even and perfectly formed.

These trees regularly made fun of the old tree. They made fun of his ugliness, his twisted branches and his stunted growth and praised their own impressive beauty.

The old tree said nothing.

One day an army of lumberjacks arrived. They selected all the finest, straightest trees and cut them down to make planks and beams for building houses and ships.

They did not consider the old tree and left it alone. What use was it? It was so twisted and deformed that its wood could not be used to make anything useful.

The old tree was now the only one in the neighbourhood.

Although it was useless for lumber, it provided a perfect place for people to picnic beneath in its shade and children found its knotty branches easy to climb. Every day the old tree was surrounded with joy and laughter.

The moral of the story?

I’ll leave you to figure that out yourselves.

Barry Westley 2019.

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