Wisdom from Trees

I have always admired trees. They start out so small, from a seed, and then grow so big; they stay in the same place all their lives, no matter what the weather. Trees go through a cycle of birth and death each year. Stanley Horowitz said of this cycle of nature, not just of trees: “Winter is an etching, Spring is a watercolor, Summer is an oil painting, and Autumn is a mosaic of them all.”

Think of growing from something maybe an inch in diameter, an acorn, into a stately oak, perhaps 100 feet tall. To paraphrase T Harv Eker, “If acorns had the mind of humans, you’d rarely see an oak tree over 10 feet tall.”

Why do we limit ourselves so? Why do we belittle our innate greatness? Is it really humility, or is it fear? Are we afraid of what others might think if we were to be as fabulous as we are born to be? I prefer to be inspired by the words of Satsuki Shibuya: “By doing what you love you inspire and awaken the hearts of others.”

A Native American shaman friend of mine, Kathy, taught me how to admire a tree, starting at the base of the trunk, follow each branch out to its end, returning to the trunk, tracing the next one with your hand and eyes. Take in the entire tree. Then contemplate that the root system is just as large. When I take all that in, I am even more in awe of the fortitude and flexibility it must take to spend your entire life “planted” in one place. No matter the conditions, a glorious sunny Summer day or a thunderstorm with gale force winds, you cannot move from where you are. Wow!

It is said that trees grow for 50 years, and then die for 50 years. A lot of people have the same thoughts about their own lives. They think that it is natural to peak at middle age, and then it’s downhill from there until they finally die. They give up living to the fullest extent possible for half their lives. I don’t think that’s what nature intended, nor is it how it has to be. I prefer a life of continued evolution, continued growth, each and every day. With our accumulated wisdom we face each new day as a new person. I like the model of an upward spiral. Have you stopped growing?