Two trees stand side by side, tall and adorned with the saturated brilliance of autumnal golds and oranges and reds. Here, in this field, they exist, just as they are, strong and true. But today, the sky is grey. The clouds cloak the sky, momentarily hiding the sun, as a mother hangs a curtain over a bright window to allow her babe to sleep.

Unlike the sleeping baby, though, the one tree is sad. It misses the warmth and brightness of the fall sun. It feels a chill in the air and regards the smoke-colored sky as unjust. It says to the other tree, “How am I to endure this depressing sky? It is making me so very sad. I am a tree, strong and beautiful with leaves the colors of jewels, but not today. How can I express my beauty when this infernal grayness dims me so?”

The other tree responds, “What is this you say? How is it that the sky depresses your color?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” the other tree answers. “My leaves are dull; I need the sun to shine upon them so that everyone might see how brilliantly colored they are. Without the light I am nothing.”

“I see,” said the other. “That does sound very grim, indeed. I can understand why you feel so sad. I wonder, how do I look to you? Do believe the clouds darken my appearance too? Is my beauty so censured by the gray sky?”

“Oh, I assure you, you are still beautiful,” answered the tree. “Clearly, you are different and cannot be influenced. Your leaves are as lovely as ever. In fact, gray somehow enhances your beauty. The colors are changed somewhat, indeed, but their hues are true and rich. You are clearly luckier than I, to be sure.”

“That’s interesting,” answered the other. “So, I seem unchanged to you, but you feel different and reduced by today’s weather?”

“I will tell you this, friend,” she continued. “Even today, when the clouds hide the sun, when the autumnal light is faded, you are still brilliant and beautiful. You might not be able to see it in yourself, but I can, just as you see it in me. And this is why. Whether the sun shines on us or the clouds roll across the sky to cover its light, we still stand as we are. The conditions of the air, this field, the animals in it, everything around us–they do not dictate who we are, how we stand, and the color of our leaves. Yes, when the sun warms us and ignites our color, our beauty is undeniable to all who see us. But when it does not, we are not less magnificent. We are what we are, unconditional in our being. As long as we stand here in this field, for as many decades or centuries as we are in this place, all we need to know is this: to live independent of conditions is the only way to true joy, which is our very birthright, given to us by Nature, herself.”

“It is alright to feel sad. It is understandable to witness how conditions can alter how we feel about ourselves. But just remember, your truth does not depend on anything outside of you. In your very nature, you are as an extension of the universe itself, which is ever only abundance and love and eternal beauty.”

The sad tree listened and accepted these words. The cool breeze rustled through her color-soaked leaves and she looked up at the passing clouds. She knew all of this to be so. And she was able to rest in this truth.