We have a South American tree--never mind what sort--in a halved wine barrel out back. We've been growing the tree from a timy seedling, and now it has a nice trunk and stands a little taller than me.
It's a deciduous species. But this spring, the leaves came bursting out...and died, looking as though the sun had fried them. Again and again.
Finally we discovered the poor thing was rootbound (or root-bound, or perhaps root bound)--all roots, but unable to absorb water. Although it was late in the season, we dragged it out of its huge pot and laid it on its side. I took a saw and cut away the bottom third of its roots, resulting in a woven woody mat about the diameter of an automobile tire, though not quite as thick. Then I cut some big triangular wedges out of the rootball in parallel with the trunk.
We pruned back the branches--pruned it back hard--and replanted it in the barrel with loads of new soil. We figured we might have killed it, but it was clearly dying anyhow.
The tree has burst out in new buds, buds now invincible to the sun, and more energetic than ever before. Which probably goes to demonstrate a profound concept, and probably has deep applicability to writing, or editing, or your hair or your family or something.
Or it might demonstrate that I'm a crappy horticulturist and that trees are incredibly resilient even if they are badly mistreated by incompetent owners.
Sometimes it can be hard to tell parables from screw-ups.