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Life in the Center

Category: The Teen Scene
Posted: November 27, 2018

By: Josh O'Shea, Young Adult Librarian

Life is between bark and core. Tree rings show how new layers can grow around the outside of old layers. The hardened center acts as an anchor. And like those layers in a tree, our surroundings affect us.

Humans have roots and leaves that absorb the nutrients we live in, forming new layers. The words we hear, books we read, videos we watch, weights we lift, pavement we pound, makeup we wear… Everything affects us biologically, intellectually, and emotionally. It all influences our quality of life and becomes a way to express ourselves.

Difficult experiences help us grow. When we encounter challenges, we have a chance to “build character” or “show our mettle.” It’s good to accept opportunities that stretch our ability. It’s good to wrestle with intellectually stimulating ideas. We shouldn’t worry about making life easy or perfect, because that’s impossible. We change what we can.

Layers count—they make us who we are by influencing our actions and thoughts. We shouldn’t try to be too ridged and resist change, because change is the nutrient our roots depend on for growth. Our inside is a hollow place that we fill. Like a tree, we are affected by context, and we will absorb the nutrients—or toxins—that abound. Unlike a tree, however, we can often choose our nutrients—whether they are food, exercise, or knowledge. It’s just as important to surround ourselves with people who uplift us as it is important to eat healthy food. We should always look for new, challenging ways to grow.

Check out these titles for further reading:

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life by Eric Greitens

How to Be Miserable: 40 Strategies You Already Use by Randy Paterson

The Culture of Beauty by Roman Espejo

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