“Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.” – William Wordsworth
Trees are an endless source of knowledge, prepared to teach us and nurture us. But do we have the ability to listen to what they say?
Taking your time: Patience
From self-checkouts to lightning-fast Internet connections, there is little reason for us to exercise patience anymore. We live in a society obsessed with speed; how do we make this quicker, how do we eliminate a few minutes from that task, what is the fastest possible way to get from Taco Bell to McDonalds… We’ve forgotten what it means to take our time: to savour.
When was the last time you saw an oak tree in a hurry to grow? Yet look at how beautiful and complex it is, and the scope of which it gives back to the Earth. Imagine what we could accomplish if we just took a little more time.
Weathering the storm: Strength
Just as a tree has the strength to weather decades, if not centuries and millennia, of storms, so must we find our strength to weather through everything that life presents us. Even when that “everything” includes having to sit through an hour long conversation with your great-aunt Ethel about the joys of crochet. You can always find inner strength within yourself to keep going.
And who knows, perhaps you’ll leave with a nice tea-cozy.
Creating a tree-munity: Cooperation
Working together as a community is woven within the fabric of our being as humans. In the past, had it not been for the cooperation between individuals, our species would never have survived. Today, we often times lose the need for such cooperation, isolating ourselves within virtual worlds online and abandoning face-to-face interactions in favour of passive-aggressive Facebook messages.
Mature trees, on the other hand, cooperate with and assist other smaller trees in their vicinity by using underground fungal networks to transfer water, carbon, and other resources. If not for this cooperation, the new generation of trees would not be able to survive.
When we work together, we can accomplish so much more. No fungus necessary!
Adapting and regenerating: Self-healing
Whether from accident or disease, a tree has the ability to heal itself. When injured, tree cells will flow around a wound, creating a knot. By changing course, the cells within the wood grain can continue to supply nutrients and water to other parts of the tree, rather than simply hitting a dead end and cutting off all supplies to the rest of the tree.
So must we be willing to adapt in order to heal ourselves. We will always face adversity, but it is how we react to this adversity that reveals who we are as people. When we begin to heal ourselves, we can begin to move forward.
Standing tall: Pride
Hyperion, a coast redwood found in northern California, has a height of over 379 feet, making it the tallest tree in the world. What could possibly be a better reminder to stand tall than an organism that dwarfs the Statue of Liberty? Be proud of who you are; be proud of what you’ve accomplished. And remember, there’s always room to grow.
Winter dormancy: Rest
When the cold of winter comes, trees have the ability to minimize their metabolic activity to conserve energy. They enter a state of dormancy, patiently waiting for spring as they rest. Each year in Canada, entire forests go dormant for upwards of six months. Imagine if we all took as much care to rest and conserve our energy!
OK… unless you’re a Snorlax, perhaps six months of rest is a bit much. But taking small moments of reprieve out of our otherwise hectic lives could have endless benefits. Besides, you can never have too much duvet time.
Unfurling your leaves: Honesty
Each spring and upon every tree thousands of leaves unfurl, revealing themselves to the open air. New shoots sprout up from the ground and flowers bloom. It’s a time of growth and development following an extended period of rest and conservation.
Just as a tree takes full advantage of the spring weather, we too should be willing to open up and reveal our innermost selves to those closest to us. Being honest, both with yourself and with those around you, is the only way to acceptance and understanding. Whether for yourself or for others, honesty and transparency will lead to trust. And trust is the foundation of all relationships.
Living unbound: Freedom
A tree grows where a tree grows.
In the wild, there are no prescribed locations for a seed to germinate or a root to sprout. Trees will grow wherever conditions are best for them. Why not take a (recycled) page from nature’s handbook and have a willingness to explore freely? When you begin to live unbound, you begin to experience everything that the world has to offer. Never be afraid of these new experiences; change can be good!
Finding your own “fingerprint”: Uniqueness
Just as no two snowflakes are alike, no two trees are the same. Each grows and bends of its own accord, without guidance or prescription. The ridges of bark and veins of a leaf are fingerprints, distinctive to each trunk and branch.
Every tree is unique, so don’t be afraid to be different. Embrace your flaws and delight in what makes you “you”. Never feel the need to adhere to others ideals; just be yourself, and grow how YOU want to grow.
Spreading your roots: Foundation
A tree will bury its roots deep into the earth, spreading them out over a large area. Although often times hidden from sight, the roots are what grounds the tree, continuously growing throughout the nutrient rich soil. In this way, so must you bury your roots. Allow your closest network of family and friends to provide you nourishment (both spiritually and in the form of delicious sandwiches), help you grow, and be the constant in your life that allows you to stay grounded. But don’t be scared to spread your roots further. There is always more of the world to explore.