When a Man Makes the Climb: How D’You Like Them Apples?
My eldest daughter is changing her last name in two weeks and three days. She is getting married to the guy who climbed the apple tree.
Aside from his stellar tree climbing skills, her intended is an intelligent man of fine character, quick wit, and deep-rooted family values. We love him to pieces and couldn’t be happier about their upcoming nuptials. I take a little credit because I’m the one who convinced my daughter to try online dating just for fun—I know, I know. Shh. But listen, I knew she was discerning enough to weed out the wackos and smart enough to take the necessary precautions if meeting someone in person, and she did. The girl doesn’t have three-soon-to-be-four college degrees for nothing.
And so to the tree climbing. You knew I’d get back to that, right?
When my girls were young, I told them the allegory of the apple tree. I don’t know who came up with this, so I can’t credit them by name, but here’s the retelling as I told it to my daughters.
Imagine there is an apple tree in a meadow. It is a tall, strong tree, laden with many apples, some scattered throughout the tree, many on low-hanging branches, easy to pluck. Countless others lie on the ground, and for a man on the go, those are certainly the easiest to choose.
At the top of the tree are the best and brightest apples, but of course these are the most difficult to reach. Every man who passes the tree notices the top-of-tree apples and wishes those beauties were closer to the ground and easier to access. The majority of men will sigh and wish they had the time and skills necessary to climb the tree, because it is clear that those apples at the top are the best. But they will choose an apple from the ground or one of the lower branches and go on their way.
Women, I told my daughters, are the apples on the tree, and on this tree, each apple chooses where it will grow—top, middle, bottom. Choose to be the apple at the highest point of the tree. Don’t settle for middle or low-hanging. And understand that many men will pass the tree and gaze longingly at the top, but the only one worthy of you is the one willing to forego the easier-to-reach apples. He is the one willing to make the climb. Don’t ever settle for a man who thinks he can have you simply by shaking the tree.
My daughter’s intended made the climb. They began as friends, though he made it clear he hoped for more. It took three months of climbing before he finally heard her say, “Okay, I guess you’re for real. Let’s give this a try.” It would have been easier for him, when he realized the effort required, to say adios and leave her on her lofty branch while he spent his time collecting lower-hanging apples. But even as she knew her own worth, so did he know his, and so set his sights on that one apple at the top of the tree—and he put on his climbing gear.
The moral of the story, daughters, is this: Do not hold your worth cheaply or others will do likewise. The choice to be at the top of the tree belongs to you and you alone. If you don’t want a man who is interested only in an easy plucking, then put yourself out of reach except for the one who recognizes you are worth the climb. And remember, the view is better from the top, for both of you.
So there you have it, buttercup. If you’re a feminist, please don’t beat me about the head and shoulders for comparing women to apples waiting to be plucked. If that’s what you came away with, then I told it wrong. No, this story is about the importance of identifying one’s own self-worth—choosing what we will settle for and what we won’t. It applies as equally to the man as it does to the woman. Consider: A man who thinks little of himself is less likely to attempt the climb.
A man and a woman who understand their own worth and wait for the right person to recognize it also, are better able to respect and appreciate that gift when they find it. That’s one of the cornerstones of a happy marriage.
David, my dear darling, we’re glad you put on your climbing gear. And with the wedding just around the corner, I might suggest next a pair of hiking boots for both you and Stephanie. Sneakers are okay for a walk in the park, but marriage requires a stronger pair of shoes. The good news is, you’re making this climb together. As long as there is love in every step taken, you’re both in for a wonderful journey.
See you next week for more of the Naked Truth. 🙂
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