Thoughts of the day
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is a children’s book about a relationship between an aging tree and boy, in which the tree keeps on giving, and the boy keeps on taking. The story has been criticised as being sad, narcissistic, even anti-environmental in its nature.
Indeed, the story is not necessarily a happy one, nor does it represent a balanced relationship. But Silverstein always believed that promising this allusive thing called happiness to children would set them up for disappointment: “The child asks, ‘Why don’t I have this happiness thing you’re telling me about?’”
The act of being selfless always risks being on the receiving end of ingratitude, or even worse exploitation, though not always intentional. The first-ever relationship we ever form, the one with our parents, is likely to be of such nature, where one side gives, without conditions, without expectations, and the other side takes. Some continue to give. Others continue to take. We end up doing a little bit of both.
You can read the story here, and once you do, don’t forget about the trees in your life. And, perhaps the most important lesson of the story, is that giving should never come with any kind of expectation. After all, the tree was happy.
Have a good Friday and weekend.
If you were forwarded this email and you'd like to receive more, you can sign up and receive it daily in your inbox.
And if you love Brain Food and want the world to know about it, feel free to share it with them.
If you have any questions, thoughts, ideas you'd like to share, just hit reply.
Read longer Brain Food musings on Medium.