Life has been on my mind lately, as I think about the time we spend in a state of living.
This is the story of humans: Through centuries homo sapiens have made footprints on this planet and evolved with the changing environment. We have foraged, hunted, lived off the land and honed our rudimentary survival skills into sharp-edged knives, emerging as a ‘successful species’ today with innovation, creativity, resourcefulness and constantly learning the ways of the world as we cross continents. However it is not without conflict and the desire to have more. We are fragile – skin, flesh and bones – and are at the mercy of trauma, disease and suffering as we get older. Some contemplate about living forever like vampires – being immortals – though forever is a subjective thought.
This is the story of a tree: A seedling, planted on open ground many hundreds of years ago survives today, growing slowly but surely. This seedling becomes a full grown oak tree with a massive canopy, putting on girth as it feels no threat from any competitors on open grown land. Even as its crown retrenches with age, its sturdy trunk holds its shape while pulling the frame of the oak down towards ground zero. With the ceaseless winds, rain and snow pelting down, the oak stands its ground, though inevitable fractures start to appear. The branches of the oak split, its bark furrows and ruptures into creases and deep lines that only age can tell. Wildlife and organisms of all sorts burrow deep, making it their home; fungal spores infiltrate and emanate fruiting bodies from within. The oak humbly takes it on the chin and continues to provide sanctuary for its inhabitants. New shoots emerge all over its collapsing frame where channels of life still exist. Time ticks away unhurriedly and silently for the tree, as buds burst into bright green leaves each spring, refusing to give up the ghost. As this infinite growth continues the oak proves its resilience, ageing with each second that passes but never growing weary of this world.
I would like to think that because we have such limited lifespans, we look at old trees that have witnessed the ongoings of the world, and live our imagined eternal lives vicariously through their legacies. An ancient tree that has stood the test of time, elements and change, carries a backbone of steel within itself, something that is not easily eroded over time.
I think this is why we love old trees.
This is why we are humbled, our thoughts living on eternally.