A tall, stately cypress tree had lived for many years, but was very unhappy with its life. It felt that death was near, and it looked forward to its end with eager longing.
“My life has been useless” the tree said to itself. “All I have done is stand here for several years, doing nothing, day in and day out. Just the same routine, providing shade to birds and animals, over and over for years. I cannot wait to die. Maybe someone will hear me as I crash to the ground and come and lament over me.”
With a mighty crash, it fell to the ground. But no one heard it fall. It lay on the ground, all alone, its life slowly seeping away over several days, and feeling more useless than ever. Suddenly, a beaver came up to it, and nibbled off some branches and lugged them away to build a dam. The following day, a group of campers came across the fallen tree, and used more of its branches to build a fire. A few days later, a lumberjack came across it. He hewed off its trunk and dragged it off.
“Oh, wow!” the old tree thought to itself. “Whoever would have thought. But wait? What’s this now?” A brood of termites had marched up to the tree, and were burrowing away in whatever was left of it to make a new home.
“Ah,” the tree said to itself. “When I was tall and stately, only the birds could rest in my boughs. But now that I am flat on the ground, everyone can make use of me.”
True greatness is found in humility.