It is an interesting anecdote from ancient times when storytelling was considered an important element of everyday life. It was considered a source of inspiration for the general public gatherings of that bygone era.

The story I am intended to share today is from the life of Mullah Nasruddin Hodja who was a contemporary scholar and wise man of his time.

Olive trees on the hill

The Olive Trees and the driftwood

This is a short story of a farmer who asked a very decent question from Nasruddin whether or not his olive trees would bear fruits in the coming season.

Oh Hodja! Would my olives πŸ«’ bear this year?

β€œThey will bear,” said the wise old Mullah.

β€œHow do you know?”

β€œI just know, that is all.”

Upon saying that, he went away


Sometimes later, it’s so happened that the same farmer saw Nasrudin scurrying his donkey along a seashore, looking for driftwood.

(Driftwood is a kind of wood that has been washed onto a shore or beach, lake, or river by the action of winds, tides or waves)

β€œThere is no wood here, Mullah, I have looked,” he shouted.

Some hours later, the same man saw Nasrudin treading his way home, tired out, still without fuel.

On seeing this, the farmer addressed him mockingly.

β€œYou are a man of knowledge, who can tell whether an olive tree will bear or not. Why can’t you tell whether there is wood on a seashore or not?”

Upon this, Nasruddin wisely replied.

β€œI know what must be,” confessed Nasrudin, β€œbut I do not know what may be.”

Final thoughts:

The term driftwood is used for a person who has difficulty making decisions quickly and firmly. The one who hesitates to take decisions on time. On the other hand, olive tree stands firm and grounded. It symbolize the eternal link between man and the earth.

Driftwood on a beach on a misty day

The driftwood also symbolizes the eternal connection of man with the ocean.

This is the contrast difference between an alive tree versus a dead traveling tree that is just going on with the flow. Finding driftwood depends on many factors as they mostly rely on winds and storms to be swept away on the beaches and shores.

Olive trees mean longevity because they are renowned for living for thousands of years.

On the other hand, driftwood reminds us that they are just woody remnants of dead trees that wind up progressing through rivers, lakes, or oceans.

The phrase I know what must signify a classic example of whatever is meant or predestined to happen will happen as indicated by bearing olives.

But I do not what may indicate uncertainty when you are not sure about something that may happen in the future as in the case of not discovering driftwoods along a seashore on that hot summer day.


Nasreddin Hodja is considered a philosopher, Sufi, and wise old man. He is remembered throughout the Middle East for his witty stories and anecdotes. Usually, there is the joke, followed by a moral message which brings the consciousness on the road to realization.


Thank for readingπŸ“–. Please like πŸ‘, share πŸ”„, and follow πŸ”‚ my blog.


16 thoughts on “Tree stories: The Olive Trees and the Driftwood

  1. Wow, I love the image of a philosopher wandering on a beach searching for driftwood. Probably he’s doing his physical exercise as well as his meditation…

    1. Yeah he might be doing both of these activities with a donkey on his side for a company.

      It’s a very enchanting visual you give. Thank you πŸ˜ŠπŸ‘Œ

  2. I loved your story πŸŒΉπŸ’™. When the farmer asked “How do you know” to the wiseman about his certainty that the farmer’s olive trees would bear fruit, what you said in your final thoughts about “I know what must” is exactly where I suspected the wiseman was coming from β­πŸ’―.

    The olive tree is more likely to bear because that’s just the nature of it plus if there is a whole set around that are actually bearing, then you can reasonably conclude that the farmer’s own would as well πŸ‘πŸ˜‚.

    Your views about the Olive tree and how it symbolizes the eternal link between man and the earth is a very remarkable example of symbolism and I hope I followed your points πŸ˜…πŸ’™πŸ’™

    1. β€œBecause that just the nature of it” πŸ’Ÿ Yes, you are so right to point that. I like your comment very much that how better you thoughtfully interpret that story. Many thanks. πŸ‘ŒπŸ‘πŸ˜

      1. You are welcome Rabia 😍πŸ₯°. I have a very soft spot for your thoughts and feelings and it was an immersive treat to read this story haha. It was very creative and remarkably expressed πŸŒΉπŸ™ŒπŸ€—πŸ˜˜

    1. Well said. I like your perception of bringing realistic expectations to this tale. You have a remarkable vision to link impermanence and destiny here. I am impressed by this approach. Thanks a lot.

      1. You’re welcome, Rabia. Always. I appreciate the compliment, my friend. The vision was only possible in the reading of your blog post. Wonderful.

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