Shel Silverstein’s illustrative story of a boy and a tree imagines a very heartrending connection between our two species. The emotional tale accurately describes the mother nature of this marvelous tree and how our appreciation of its gifts is realized far too late. However, when it comes to our real lives, it is never too late! We can continue to learn from these majestic green giants and creatively apply their unique blueprint, spanning over three hundred million years, into our own daily lives. It is a natural design for healthier roots.
Take Aspen trees for example. They work together as a family. If one of its trees becomes malnourished because of a lack of sun or exposure to severe weather, for instance, the family system pitches in to sustain the tree and make the grove whole. That’s because underneath the surface the trees are interconnected with one root system. The entire grove is able to pass along nutrients to any single tree. No tree is left out in the cold and each one is but a small part of a larger living organism.
This connection between trees and our environment extends beyond just their physical roots. Trees become a real therapeutic boost through their interplay with us. Along with providing our life force with clean air and food, trees have an uncanny ability to heal and reduce violence. Studies have shown that visual exposure to trees decreases anxiety and allows patients to heal with fewer complications. Furthermore, when trees are part of a landscape – quieting noise and soothing the eyes - overall tension and fear diminish. Creating green space uplifts the spirit and furthers our symbiotic relationship - a model we seek within ourselves.
Not to be outdone, trees bring diverse groups of people together. Whether it is the preservation of a park, an outing in nature, or a simple picnic, safeguarding Mother Nature as a reason to come together increases quality of life, community involvement and personal inspiration. It is especially important to keep this in mind today when our lifestyle choices are constantly bombarded with screen-time demands that can lead to feelings of isolation, depression, helplessness, and low self-confidence. Connecting with others in a natural, tree-like setting puts the meaning into phrases like ‘a breath of fresh air,’ and ‘turning over a new leaf.’
Trees are ancient and when we observe their mature growth we can learn from their unique wisdom. The ‘Giving Tree’ pays homage to this gift. However, the lesson is entirely up to us. We can become tired and old, sitting on a stump bemoaning the life we spent. Or we can blossom, embodying the tree-like spirit, contributing more of ourselves to collective causes vital to our growth. The seed of our truths can be plant at any age, any time.