Lessons learned from trees.
These are changing times.
Turmoil around, within. I stand beneath golden branches, the promise of the continual struggle of life, and suddenly it all makes sense, or maybe nothing matters, and everything finds its place. Can I let myself cry, selfishly, foolishly, like an innocent child so wanting comfort in hard times, yet not knowing how to ask?
Early autumn in the high mountains. I write from home on the edge of the Weminuche Wilderness, high and away in the heart of the Headwaters of the Rio Grande in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains.
I am flanked by a hundred thousand acres of charred woods and a few hundred thousand acres more of dead standing beetle kill and Aspen fading and falling randomly. A forest full of kindling waiting to ignite. Finding new growth, green needles, sweet sap, life existing, tenaciously holding or ferociously fighting to survive. Life is precious.
In all their simplicity. Trees.
Go through it. Let it out. Tears fall like raindrops. Nourishment to parched lands and thirsty roots. No one to hear them fall but the trees. Allow it. Breathe in, breathe out, standing beside a tree.
These are the wise ones. They carry not a passing fancy but wisdom of the ages. Powerful, deep and rich. They make no loud claims, but hold their ground, tangled in their roots. Powerless to the pretenses of our demands, greed and ignorance. Eternal, I used to think.
Here they have lost ground. We have been hit hard by the changes. A sign of things to come, a premonition, or is this just a warning to heed? Are we too late, and does it matter anyway?
Here our children’s children will never know the old growth through which I used to wander.
Even in their ethereal presence, this graveyard of barren branches, I feel them breathe. I hear them sigh. Down deep if no where else than in their roots, the soil, the earth. That’s where life remains. And life will come again.
Standing on fallen needles and listening to the Wisdom of the trees.
Breathing in, breathing out, seeking the scent of fresh sap and plump needles. I have almost forgotten.
These are the lessons they teach.
Stand with me now, still and silent beneath bare branches of a seemingly lifeless tree. Close your eyes. In the wild changing wind, feel the remaining presence of these great beings. Listen to their wisdom.
This is what we hear:
The earth matters. Give more than you take.
You can’t control the seasons. Learn to let go.
You can’t rush the seasons. Practice patience.
You can’t change the weather. Stand tall in the rain and dance in the wind.
Storms come, storms go, the sun will shine again.
Be still and listen.
Be wordless. (So hard for a writer to do.) That’s where our truths are found. (Write about them later.)
Seasons come and seasons go.
Leaves fall and blossoms return time and time again.
Life stems where you least expect it.
Last year’s leaves are next year’s fertile soil.
Be willing to shed and grow again.
Be grounded. Grow your roots deep and strong.
We share the same soil. Our roots are connected. We are one.
Stand tall and strong, not hard and rigid.
Be flexible in adverse conditions.
Learn to bend in the wind.
Seeds blow in the wind—new life starts where you least expect.
Be willing to break new ground.
Don’t expect ideal conditions.
Grow where they least expect it.
Know you are never alone. Others will grow beside you, and together, you can create a forest.
Look around at others growing above and below you. Respect differences. We need each other.
Provide shelter to those who need it.
Nurture indiscriminately. Practice non-judgment.
Give what you can, and then give more.
Don’t take it personally, and you can’t change others. All you can do is grow.
Allow the world to come and go around you.
Learn to let go.
Nothing lasts forever.
Author: Gin Getz
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Author’s Own