Trees – we drive by them, hike next to them or fly over them, yet we rarely notice them. Having spent a couple of weeks lately in Asheville (Western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains), I was most impressed with the area’s trees – towering giants, straight, scraping the heavens – with leaves and bark in every design. They are symbols of sheer power, resilience and beauty.
I have always been into trees – something my dad and I shared. We notice their uniqueness, their shapes, their flowers, their fruits and they way they survive the winter and celebrate the summer. Trees are miracles with super highways running through the trunk and branches – moving supplies throughout the tree – like an efficient city responding to its world.
Trees are teachers – they have many life lessons for us:
- Trees are true to their nature. Oak trees don’t try to grow apples, and maple trees don’t try to grow needles and cones – they develop into their unique selves. We too are hardwired to be our unique selves. We come packaged with unique talents, strengths, passions and interests that, when discovered, can help us be who we truly are and deliver our best to the world. We should connect to what is true in us and live that, instead of trying to follow the loudest voice around us.
- Trees are beautiful as they are. Hawthorne trees don’t critique oaks, Fraser firs don’t pass judgment on dogwoods. They each step boldly into their own beauty. We can learn to accept and appreciate what makes each of us beautiful – not to compare ourselves to others – but to be pleased and confident with who we are.
- Trees are generous. They offer their shade, flowers, fruit or shelter to whomever or whatever needs it – they share their best with their world without an expectation of return. When we discover what it best in us, we then can develop it and live it to share our best with our world. Each of us has something great to bring to our world to make our local or larger world better; be generous.
- Trees are resilient. They stand up to whatever life sends them – wind, rain, snow, bugs – they find a way to adapt. We develop our resiliency by learning to be less judgmental about and more grateful for life; we can learn to accept what comes our way and find the blessing in it.
- Trees share their space. Trees accommodate rocks, buildings and other trees – they make room for others. We can learn to make physical and emotional space for others – to connect in with their situations and offer some of ourselves – what we have to help others find their way. On a planet of 7 billion people, there is still room for each of us and a place for each of us to show up as our best selves.
- Trees reach for the sun. They gather their energy from the light. We lean to those who bring light and energy to our lives; we are engaged and encouraged by thoughtfulness, gratitude, kindness and positive energy.
Everything on our planet has something to teach us if we would stop and notice it. It takes time, attention and intention. Attention to notice and gather information, and intention to learn from what was seen.
As long as I can remember, I have noticed trees. They are living giants of redeeming attributes – strength, beauty, resilience, excellence and generosity. They remind me of how to be a better person – of developing values that add to life and to the world.
Spend some time with trees – they have amazing things to teach you.