When You Can’t Win

There’s a saying in German that translates roughly as “I can’t reach a green branch.” It means that, no matter what you do, you can’t seem to win anywhere in life right now.

Sometimes, problems visit you from all corners of life at the same time. Work isn’t going well, your back pain demands more treatment, and of course right then your kids decide to be extra demanding. In other words, you can’t reach a green branch. Wherever you try to grab, brown leaves are falling, but if you stretch any further, so might you.

Before you tumble down from the treetops, take a moment. Sit on the top rung of your ladder. Think. Perhaps this down season of your life is just that. A moment in time. A temporary losing streak — and, though temporary, losing streaks are never about winning. They’re about surviving.

When Katniss ends up in the Hunger Games for the second time, she knows a different tune is in order. Not that the life-or-death tournament was ever about winning, but this time, she won’t be able to hustle herself to the top, no matter how clever she is or how hard she tries. Unless she finds a different path, she’ll never reach a green branch.

Change your perspective. Stop trying so hard, and, perhaps, try something else altogether. Lower the bar. You’re not going for gold right now. You’re not looking for evergreen. Climb down, and tend to your roots. Feel the comforting stability of rock bottom if you must, and remember that the strongest part of a tree lies at its feet. Take care of the basics, and soon enough, green leaves will surround you once more.