May We All Be Like the Palm Trees

May We All Be Like the Palm Trees

By Gracie Bagosy-Young.

My dad took me to Hawaii in 8th grade. I was so fascinated with the palm trees that he took my picture in front of seemingly each one I saw, because it was my “favorite one.” I was sure that I could grow one in my bedroom in Illinois, so I smuggled two small coconuts through airport security. I won’t mention where, but I will tell you that if security has searched an 8th grader there, my dad would have knocked them out! Times were different then, and there was no TSA.

I got those baby coconuts to Illinois where I promptly planted them in pots in my bedroom, and they did not grow…of course! Through the years my dad fostered my love of palm trees, purchasing me trinkets and such. He even got me a 5 ft purple cardboard palm for Christmas one year. How I wish I had those things still now that he has passed.

Gracie Bagosy-Young

I spent some time in Florida this winter hiding from the cold. Florida during the winter is very kind to CRPS. In speaking to a woman that respect very deeply, she said to me, “It makes sense that you love the palm trees.” Intrigued, I asked what that meant. She went on to explain, and I learned with complete fascination, and a few tears.

Palm trees are built to withstand the strongest of storms. While all of the other trees snap in the deadly hurricanes, the palm trees bend and even become stronger! A little research provided more insight: The trunk of a pine or oak tree grows in a radial pattern; the annual rings effectively make a series of hollow cylinders inside each other. Meanwhile, the stem of a palm tree is made of many small bundles of woody material, which likens to the bundles of wires inside a telephone cable. (TreeHugger). This hit me immediately! Be flexible. Bend but don’t break. Let those storms in your life toss you around a bit, but always come out stronger. Be made of the good stuff! I was starting to hear my dad in her.

Another point of interest to me is the palm leaves themselves. Unlike most trees, palms don’t bother with spindly branches. Instead, they produce a canopy of large leaves supported by a flexible midrib. These act sort of like large feathers, allowing their canopy to readily shed water and bend against even the strongest winds. Although their leaves will snap if buffeted hard enough, palm canopies accrue considerably less damage under such conditions. Another adaptation exhibited by palm leaves is their ability to fold up like a paper fan. This reduces their otherwise large surface area against powerful winds.  (InDefenseofPlants) In a world full of competition and a quest to look forever young, I loved this as well. There is no need for big fancy branches and leaves. Minimal is beautiful and key for survival.

And finally, the most intriguing point was this: palm trees have rather dense roots. They sacrifice size for quantity. Instead of a few large roots anchored into the soil, palms produce a multitude of smaller roots that spread out into the upper layers of the soil. This is especially useful when growing in sand. By increasing the number of roots they put down, palms are able to hold on to a larger volume of soil and therefore possess a much heavier base. This keeps them stranding upright in all but the worst conditions. (InDefenseofPlants) Wow, this brought on the tears! We need a support community! No one can go at it alone! This “more is better” theory keeps us grounded and standing tall.

In one very brief conversation, my love and respect for these beautiful trees and changed and deepened. May we all be like the palm trees!

Gracie Bagosy-Young is a chronic pain activist.
@GracieBagosy
www.GGPainAdvocacy.com

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Nancy Wilson

Thank you for this amazing story! I have always loved palm trees.

Joanna

Love your story, Gracie, thanks! Will add you on Twitter 🙂

Maureen M.

Gracie, Thank you for this story… I live in Fla and have 7 Palms on my property…I will now view them in a whole new way! and draw on the strength of them 🙂

Mist

Thank You love the story .My SIl suffers unrelenting pain and her spine is the most crooked mess I have ever seen,she had hardware removed because it was deforming her severly after she is still deformed .Doctors believe she will be wheelchair bound but she keeps standing strong.
Her and I have a lot in common with pain back and neck issues started when we were teens I can not stand long or sit long without constantly reajusting and she ca not sit at all hardly she always stands.I thank God we have caring doctors but we have had our share of storms yet we not allow them to break us .

Thank you for the kind comments! I always read all of the comments on my articles. I do have small palms in my home in Illinois, in pots. The are ponytail palms! It isn’t the same thing, but it is a sweet reminder until I have the opportunity to return. Please make time to see the beauty around you.
My love goes out to all of my sisters and brothers in pain-never lose hope.

Patricia May

Dear Gracie:

What a beautiful article. It did bring tears to my eyes, it touched home with me. I just saw my neurologist, the second doctor this week who has told me they can’t help my headaches. I guess the new mantra at UCSD is “help no one with pain” unless they want to get fat and have side effects from Amtriptyline and other such brain bending drugs! And my first doctor appointment this week wants me WAY below the CDC recommendations, she does not want any of her patients taking pain meds. My neurologist (for my Parkinson’s like movement disorder) told me I have to decrease my Klonopin (benzodiazepines), it’s on the DEA’s watchlist.

I told my neurologist I was 0 for 2 this week trying to get out of pain, esp. headaches. I remember talking to her and saying “what am I going to do, curl up in a ball?” So when you said bend with the winds but don’t give it all up, I cried. I am proudly a palm tree 🌴 and the DEA is not going to take away my joy. I will need to find a way to afford better insurance so I can see “out of network” doctors. My primary care physician (I should call her primary non caring) will not see me through a third surgery, sent home without any pain control!

This forum is wonderful. Nobody I know wants to hear my pain/DEA complaints. It makes my family feel frustrated because they can’t help me. At least here we can read beautiful articles comparing us to strong palm trees (I live in San Diego), and people here can understand my rants. Gentle hugs to you Miss Gracie. 🌴

Dooney

I remember the first time on vacation and seeing all the palm trees, it was like another world. But sadly I just read a story about all the palm trees dying, infected by some bugs. And they dont plan on replacing them but getting trees that have bigger canopies for shade.

Steven

You’re so right Gracie, I wonder why anyone has to be tormented with pain in the first place and now the worst of it has even become harder to deal with because of the opiates are bad bandwagon. Pain is never good but the worst I’ve seen seems to be nerve pain. Being around others and having community helps take our mind off the pain especially as it Ebbs and flows. One thing that seems helpful is to remember that no one wants to be around people in pain even if they try not to show it. This means that you don’t share it with just anyone. You’re sweet person! Thank you.

Alice Carroll

You can get Fan Palms and a few other varieties to plant in pots that will grow indoors. They are beautiful, good for the air in the house and not much upkeep.
Nice story. I too am a chronic pain warrior and have spent the winter in Florida. I leave early next week for points north.

The state government in Florida has not been kind to pain patients with recent laws they’ve passed. CVS refused to fill my prescriptions for opioids as my doctor is out of state. (of course he is, I don’t live here all year.)

pilar

Thank you, Gracie.

Hi Gracie,
Asolutely loved your story! When I was in my 20s I traveled extensively to many places with the company I worked for. Daytona Beach, Florida was one of those places. When it came time to leave I cried, the man I worked for asked me what was wrong. I told him I didn’t want to leave for I had fallen in love with the beach and the palm trees. Wanted to know if there was any way we could take a palm tree with us, after all we did have a large van. He laughed and told me to go give one a hug for we lived in Tennessee and that was quite out of the question. He wasn’t making fun of me, I too saw the look in his eyes that if he’d had his rather’s, he would live in Florida as well. At the time of course I didn’t know what pain was. I worked a very hard but rewarding job doing motorcycle swap meets. It absolutely killed my back but of course the pain would go away after we returned home. Then it was off to another destination. What a grand job. I traveled the world and saw many beautiful places and met many beautiful people. Every now and then I’ll think about those palm trees and that particular beach, wishing I were there again. Given your story, those palm trees mean so much more to me now than they did before. The company I worked for had been there many times but had never heard anyone reply of such love for the palm trees. Thank you for taking me back and putting a smile on my face today. God bless you Gracie.
Sincerely, Terri James