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Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The willow and the oak tree

In a distant land, there lived a farmer with his lovely wife, 2 boys of 12 and 10 years, a lovely daughter at the precocious age of 7, and a pet dog named Elfie.

They all lived in a picturesque 2 storey farmhouse in a meadow just off the hills to east where you can see the most amazing sunrise.

At the front of the farmhouse, there is a pond about the size of a football field where the children can swim during the hot summer days. Next to the pond, there is an old willow tree that sways in the breeze, gently and elegantly as if it’s dancing with the wind in a waltz or tango.

And between the pond and the farmhouse, the farmer had planted a young oak tree. Although young in age, the oak tree has spread its branches wide, providing a natural shade from the sun, underneath where the farmer has placed a rustic wooden table and 2 benches. It’s where many a family barbecues and birthday parties have taken place.

As the oak tree steadily grows bigger, both in height and girth, the more majestic it looks. The willow tree watched in envy, but at the same time, was growing worried for his young friend.

“You may want to go slow with the growth. Don’t stand up too tall, and fold in your branches. Better to keep a low profile. The more you stand out, the greater the risk you are putting to yourself,” the willow whispered to the young oak tree.

“What do you mean?” asked the oak tree, with a quizzical look on its face.

The willow shakes his head slowly and continued, “You know the wind? When you are in agreement with him, he is oh so gentle and soothing. You do like the rustling of our leaves as the wind gentle caress our tired branches. No?”

“But the wind does not like it when others oppose its path. If you continue to grow taller and spread your branches far and wide, you may incur the wrath of the wind…”

The oak tree smiles but would have none of it. Perhaps it’s the folly of youth, and partly because of his wish to stand by his own conviction, the young oak tree thanked the old willow tree for his good intentions, but continued the path towards his destiny – to grow into a majestic oak.

As years go by, the wind tried to teach this young up-start many times by trying to blow it down. The oak tree just dug in his roots deeper into the ground, and held on. Yes, some branches of the oak may break, but new shoots will re-appear in defiance to the wind.
This went on until the children of the farmhouse are now grown up. The boys are now strong and handsome men of 22 and 20, while the little girl is now a budding young woman of 17.

The wind could no longer stand having the oak tree being the thorn in his eye no longer. Getting help from his tornado friend, they came quietly one night and blew the oak down; using the cover of night and darkness to hide the shame of their deed. The mighty and majestic oak has finally been uprooted!

You can see how defiant the oak tree had fought back by the amount of earth its roots had clung on to. Even when felled, its roots were like talons tightly grasping the earth within its grip – signaling that it never gave up, never yielding, or never compromising its convictions and beliefs.

On the morning after, the old willow tree was weeping for his fallen companion of 10 years.

“I told you so… But you just wouldn’t listen…” whimpered the willow, and shedding a tear of regret.

“Don’t cry for me old willow,” smiled the oak tree in his dying breath. “I have lived the life the way that I am destined for – strong, stubborn, never yielding, and majestic. It’s something you may not understand; but I have no regrets.”

“What I am and stood for will be remembered even when I am gone. In fact, I worry for you willow. Now you are all alone…” And with these parting words, the oak tree closed its eyes…

Now the grown-up children of the farmer were all heart-broken. Many memories and happy moments of their youth were spent with the oak tree.

Instead of letting the oak tree disappear from their lives, each of time honoured the memory of their oak tree in their own ways.

The farmer’s elder boy hollowed-out the trunk of the oak tree and fashioned a canoe out of it. Now they can go canoeing on the pond.

The younger son hacked the branches, trimmed, and built a wooden swing and placed it outside the front lawn.

And the sweet farmer’s daughter took the roots and weaved it into 2 half-egg shaped cocoon like seats, and hung them outside the front porch.

Time passed, and the grown up children of the farmer married and moved into the cities. But often they will return with children of their own for them to visit grandpa and grandma. The grandchildren had great fun with the canoe, wooden swing, and cocoon seats. And the tale of the majestic oak from which they were fashioned from will be passed on to the next generation.

The willow watched on and in time finally understood the dying words of the oak tree.

The willow may live till time immemorial, but no one on the farm will notice it except for the fact that it’s part of the background scenery. The price for forever yielding and bending in the wind, and not making a stand…


  1. The moral of the story is to donate part of our wealth to charity and have our name printed under the Donors' Name. Is it?

  2. CW8888,

    LOL! No lah!

    Its meant to be a political "Roar of the Heart" post in the first instance.

    Putting my twist to the conventional praise of the willow tree over the proud and inflexble oak tree.

    Too flexible until no backbone how?

    But it can also be used to satire on contrarian investing. No one remembers those who move with the crowd; but for those brave contrarians that dare to step into the path of the in-coming freight train, they either win big or lose big time.

    Either way, they will be famous!

  3. Great inspirational story. So we should all be defiant I guess? And stand up against the wind and voices that tell us we can't make it.

  4. Hello FF,

    It's my long winded way to say what you have expressed :)

    I have failed (in the eyes of others) and been wrong many times.

    My goal is not to beat (or defy) others; but pleasantly surprise myself from time to time by being myself.

    If I am an oak tree, I am an oak tree. Just my luck to be surrounded by willows.


  5. Hi SMOL,

    So I should stand up against the boss and keep on opposite the boss's view.

    My collegue will either remember me as a brave soul who defy and rise up in position or someone stupid who get sacked.

    In either way, I will be remembered.


  6. OT,

    Well, I got promoted once because I dare to tell the truth and have my own independant opinion from my boss - my boss loved that someone finally stood up to him. Who knew?

    On another occasion (another boss and dept), I got "warned" for "insurbordination". Time to put in another transfer requests!

  7. seems to me you are a willow but wanted to be an oak.

    or you are an oak but wanted to be with or act like the willow.

    make up your mind!

    haha well come back.

  8. for me, i'm a just a tree, sometime they call me willow, sometime they call me an oak.

    who cares, i just wanted to be a tree.

  9. boy, being an overly confident oak had cost me more than 10% of my port, and i'm force to cut back my positions size or else i will soon be the oak tree in your story.

    in my case, being a willow does not help either.

  10. and i will not forget, that ultimately, in the stock market, we call ourselves the willow tree. i still have plenty of time to change to a willow provided that i still had my cloths on.

  11. an oak is an oak, you walk like an oak, you talk like an oak, your eat like an oak and you trade like an oak.

    i don't care how good and how experience you are an oak. how careful and how disiplin you are an oak, you will still stray into an over confident territory and hence over trading.

    ofcos, you will trade bigger if you had make money for a long period of time. the market will make sure you feel like you are doing the right thing and than it changes and catch you off guide.

    therefore it is not so wise always trade like an oak.

  12. haha, this morning when i woke up, a willow tree talk to me, "hey, it isn't that bad, consider the magnitute of the drop. 20, 30, 40% drawback is not uncommon. relax men"

    then the oak tree who was sleeping by my side shouted, "get lost! what do you know about trading! this idiot started off with shorting stocks and still ended up losing! WTF"

    the two trees continue to argue as i go and take my breakfest and spend my day probably doing nothing".

  13. Hi SMOL

    You really do have a way with words. A very well told parable with an interesting twist at the end.

    My takeaway is that your life is for you to decide how you want to live it.

    Be well and prosper.

  14. Hello Panzer,

    Thanks! This post is meant first and foremost a social and political satire on the recent "Occupy Raffles Place" fiasco...

    How can you initiate social changes by remaining anonymous in the shawdows?

    And for the few that showed up, you follow "leaders" who dare not even show their faces and reveal their names?

    "they came quietly one night and blew the oak down; using the cover of night and darkness to hide the shame of their deed"


  15. Coconut,

    The volatility is making life tough for both long and short positions...

    You think why I went for vacation? It's my way to prevent myself from making any trades - I am totally confused! 1 day go up 2%, the next day go down 2% - what fundamentals have changed?

    I almost shorted the SIMSCI (as an hedge) before my vacation. Lucky I stuck with my plan to stay out of the market when confused.

    I need to wean myself from the "noise" in the media.

    You got me! Am I a willow dreaming I am an oak; or am I an oak dreaming I am a willow? Hmm...

  16. Nice story ! Ever thought of a 2nd career as a children story book writer?

  17. Guru,

    Thanks! I'll practice on the adults first. If people don't throw stones at me, then perhaps one day for the children ;)


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