Once, deep in a beautiful green forest, a teeny tiny tree seed fell onto the rich soil of the forest floor. Now, in this forest, many seeds fell onto the forest floor, but most were quickly eaten by the hungry birds that lived among the trees. This particular seed, however, was so tiny, so incredibly small, that it was overlooked by the birds. After a few days the seed began to sprout.
Now, you must know that all the seeds that were not eaten by the hungry birds began to sprout. Soon, the rabbits of the forest smelled the new sprouts. The rabbits came out of their little rabbit homes and gathered around to eat the fresh tender sprouts. The teeny tiny seed had sprouted into a teeny tiny sprout and was overlooked by the hungry rabbits.
The teeny tiny sprout felt very fortunate. As he looked around, he saw only a few other sprouts still standing. He was so happy, he did a little wiggle in the wind. The other sprouts laughed at him and called him a baby. The teeny tiny sprout was so embarrassed he turned red all the way to the top of his teeny tiny leaf.
All of the sprouts growing on the forest floor were watched over by the ancients. The ancients were the top trees of the forest. They had the tallest, straightest trunks you could imagine! Their beautiful branches stretched far and wide, casting deep shadows across the forest floor. Only a little sunlight filtered down through their thick branches. The ancients knew the sprouts needed sunlight to grow, and that only the strongest and smartest sprouts would survive. It was the way of the forest.
Time passed and the sprouts continued to grow. Most sprouts grew tall and straight, with their heads lifting higher and higher towards the few rays of sunlight that filtered down through the ancients. They had beautiful straight bodies filled with perfect little leaves. Their bark was strong and turning a rich brown. A few sprouts began to wither and die because they could not reach the much-needed rays of sun. The teeny tiny sprout grew, but he was a lot smaller than the other sprouts. He was not near a sun ray, and it was hard for him to make new leaves. His trunk was thin. It made him sad to see some of the other sprouts begin to die, and he worried that he, too would die.
The taller sprouts called him names and told him it was just a matter of time until he died like the other weaklings. Teeny tiny sprout tried to ignore their taunts, but it was hard. He was determined to grow and survive! He spent hours and hours thinking about his problem and how he could solve it. He gazed up at the ancients and wondered how they survived. How he longed to become an ancient so he could watch over the little seedlings of the forest! As he was peering up, he noticed something unusual about several of the ancients. The bottom of their long, towering trunks were thick and straight. But as he looked up toward the very top of their bodies, he noticed that most, if not all, were bent and crooked. It was hard to see because the ancients were so crowded together and their long branches were interwoven. He wondered why they grew this way. Suddenly, he understood!
From that day forward, teeny tiny sprout stopped worrying about being tall and straight. He leaned his teeny tiny body towards any bit of sunlight he could reach. He began to grow, but he was bent in odd places. The other sprouts told him he looked ridiculous. Teeny tiny sprout tried to explain to them what he discovered about the ancients, but they just covered their ears with bark and refused to listen.
All the sprouts who survived became small tree-lets. Some of the tree-lets were tall and straight because they were lucky enough to stand in a beam of sunlight. Teeny tiny tree-let continued to grow, but he was bent in so many places he was still very low to the ground. But he had beautiful leaves, and his truck was a rich brown. The other tree-lets continued to make fun of him, but he no longer cared. He knew he was different, but he was happy and that was all that mattered.
Late one afternoon, all sunlight disappeared as dark clouds gathered high above the heads of the ancients. The ancients locked limbs to protect the young tree-lets, because they knew the dangers of the storm. Before long, thunder rumbled and rain pelted the forest floor. The tree-lets loved the rain and began drinking it in as fast as it fell. After several minutes, the tree-lets were full of rain and could hold no more. But the rain came down even harder and the roots of the tree-lets could fill the soil washing away. This worried teeny tiny tree, so he tried to squeeze his roots more tightly into the ground.
As the rain continued to pound the forest floor, the ancients started to wave around wildly. The wind was a fierce beast who beat them upon their heads and tossed them around. One ancient, born many, many years before, was snapped in half. Wind didn’t even care and kept pounding at the forest. On the forest floor, the tall, straight tree-lets were tossed around as well. It was hard to hang onto the wet slippery soil when the wind pulled them back and forth. Several tree-lets were ripped from the soil and tossed to the wind, never to be seen again. Teeny tiny tree-let hugged his bent trunk close to the forest floor. He did not stand as tall as the other tree-lets, so he was able to hug closer to the ground. He hung on with all his might.
An hour later the storm passed. The forest dripped with rain and the sun shone again. It was sad to see the ancient who fell, but that was the way of the forest. As teeny tiny tree-let looked around, he realized many other tree-lets were gone. Only three remained, including himself. He was very sad the others were gone, even if they had treated him badly. He knew it was the way of the forest, but it still saddened his heart.
Years passed and teeny tiny tree-let grew into a tree. He had a strong, straight trunk, but the top of his body was bent because he continued to grow in the direction of the sun. He became known as crooked tree instead of teeny tiny tree. The other two tree-lets also became trees, but they were not as strong as crooked tree. They were tall and they were straight, but their trunks were thin and weak.
Another fierce storm came, and this time both of the other trees were snapped. Their thin straight trunks could not survive the howling wind. Crooked tree wrapped his crooked treetop around the legs of an ancient and managed to survive. He was sad to see the others go and mourned their loss.
Suddenly, crooked tree heard the booming voice of an ancient. The ancient explained that only the strongest and smartest survived because it was the way of the forest. He told crooked tree he was the only one who was smart enough to follow the sun, even if it meant being crooked. Crooked tree tremble with pride at these words. He knew he would one day join the ancients at the top of the forest.