There is a symbolic relationship between trees and us(1). We both breathe opposite air though. We both have interdependencies. We both grow.
Since childhood, my parents have been telling me to idolize myself as a tree — a selfless giver that absorbs bad air and provides fresh air to breathe; the shelter to everyone — providing comfort, a sense of calm and serenity; like the branches — extending ourselves outward as far as we can; like the leaves — opening ourselves to change, learning to let go, and allowing ourselves to renew.
The trees grow collectively with other trees, shrubs, creepers, moss, a variety of foliage, and flowers. It is a natural phenomenon for the branches or roots of two trees to grow together. It is most common for branches of two trees of the same species to grow together. The branches first grow separately in proximity to each other until they touch. Many trees rely on certain fungi to stick to their roots and enable them to sufficiently extract water from the soil. In addition, many trees and shrubs (including the cherry tree, serviceberry, plum, among others) rely on pollinating insects to exchange pollen from their flowering blooms to regenerate.
Trees supposedly evolve to live in interdependent and cooperative relationships that are sustained by communication and collective intelligence. According to an article in the Smithsonian in March 2018, researchers have compiled evidence that trees of the same species are actually communal organisms (like humans) and can even form alliances with trees of other species(2). Aristotle, the legendary Greek philosopher said, “man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual.” No human can break the shackles of mutual dependence(3).
Like trees, we all are special and beautiful in our own unique ways. We are unique, as we have the ability to think about objects, ideas and principles that are not physically present. We have our own values and beliefs that we live every day. Our mental ability is awe-inspiring. Neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran said it best, “here is this three-pound mass of jelly you can hold in the palm of your hand…it can contemplate the meaning of infinity, and it can contemplate itself contemplating the meaning of infinity.”(4) We have the ability of self-reflective consciousness that boosts our ability for self-transformation. It contributes to our abilities for self-monitoring, self-recognition, and self-identification.
Life is a continuous process of our evolution. When we look back at our younger selves, we say how amazing we were. Ironically, when we look into the future we see an unreliable version of who we are. It is all about mastering the art of deep introspection and converting the result from introspection into a way of life. It is fascinating how the process works — to bring self-awareness and align the peak energy period to any creative work. With this on my mind, I returned to the experience of self-expression and creativity through journaling and that is when I started to understand deeply and find subtle obstructions. When we are not aware of our uniqueness, we imitate — the other’s voice becomes ours and we try to fit into their mold. I realized all this while I was trying to fit into someone else's mold.
I’m that tree, that was once surrounded by people who cursed it for hours every day and within a few weeks the tree started drying. Those people valued only themselves and their motives. Being the tree I am, I cringed to my roots of honesty and openness. My first instinct is to take people at their face value and I expected the same from the people surrounding the tree. Alas, due to this negativity, the tree started losing its lust. But it didn't give up — I stayed put and rooted with my superpower of enthusiasm and self-introspection. Eventually, I survived and thrived.
As it is said, you can’t prepare for every possibility, but life is about making probabilities work in your favor! Reflect, write and lead.