I read a story about a tree in Long’s Peak Colorado naturalists believe stood 400 years. It lived through 14 lightning strikes, numerous avalanches, and the storms of four centuries. It survived everything with strength and dignity. One day the tree suddenly fell. After investigation it was discovered an army of beetles had attacked from the inside and had eaten all the way through to the bark weakening the massive tree to the point of collapse.

Honestly, that’s what happens to a lot of us. Women have their hair and nails done and lipstick on their smiles. They handle car pools, jobs, crying babies, and unrealistic expectations from relatives, serving church and civic committees feeling they’ll never be quite good enough. Men carry themselves with an air of strength and control, fulfill dutiful obligations at work, in the community, and at church. They cram in social obligations watching football and playing golf with colleagues even if they don’t like football or golf. Meanwhile their confidence is that of a scared sixteen-year-old. Like the Long’s Peak tree, we look good on the outside and we weather the pressures, but we’re being eaten away from the inside out.

Does anyone really tell us we need to be all and do all? Who imposed this unspoken rule? I’d like to meet the people who started the rumor we need to be perfect or appear so anyway. I’d kick them in the shins and run.

If you really want to know the truth, we bring pressure on ourselves. Raise your hand if you have ever compared yourself to a friend, neighbor, or coworker. If you didn’t raise your hand, I’ll remind you of that commandment about lying. We all do it! Don’t stare at the page like you don’t know what I’m talking about.

If we put the pressure on ourselves then we should be able to take it off before we suddenly crash. Give up trying to be someone you aren’t to impress people you really don’t know or even like. As complicated as life is, don’t you want to enjoy all of it you can? Don’t let the beetles eat all the way through to the bark.

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