‘We are like trees in a forest – surrounded by other trees but with no real understanding, beyond what we can ‘see’ or perhaps personally ‘feel’, of the larger forest or the greater land upon which the forest stands. The trees around may be young or old, small and bent or tall and straight, covered in fresh leaves or struggling to survive, and yet they must co-exist with them all – we are ‘trees’ in this sense (along with other human beings), and that is what ‘trees’ do….
Yet every tree and plant seeks to grow and survive, looks for growth and shelter where it can, and provides support and company for those around it. Plants enjoy the company of other plants, thrive on the shared benefits to the rest of nature, and provides homes and food for many species. The struggle for survival is just as real in the trees’ world, as it is in our frantic human world – we just don’t often see it happening. Predators abound, both visible and microscopic, the conditions of nature can, and do, take their toll – wind, rain, lightning, landslides, etc. Humans often only plant trees to cultivate and harvest them – so who can know what will happen to an individual tree? The tree will still do its best to survive, to flourish and to grow – never knowing if it will be destined for a shipyard to help make an ocean-going boat, or to a sawmill to be made into pallets for carrying goods around the world, timber for a beautiful floor, or joists and materials for a house?
Does it matter to the tree? No. it doesn’t. These decisions are out of its’ hands, and it probably isn’t even aware of the choices…
Should it matter to us what happens to our lives? Difficult question to answer, because fundamentally it does matter – but only because we have ‘expectations’ (often unrealistic expectations….) and when things don’t go the way we think they should, then we become disheartened, distressed, depressed, and often disillusioned….
But, *should* it matter to us as human individuals?? Well, inasmuch as we can have some say in what happens (we all have free will – a true blessing, and also our greatest weakness) we must focus, as best we can, for there is no doubt that our actions and decisions affect the path our life takes from minute to minute, and day to day… Unlike the trees, we have some knowledge of what options might be possible for our lives, but we share the same lack of control (and clear vision of the future) as a tree in many ways. There are no two ways about it – we are where we are in life, have the opportunities we have, and the life we have arrived at – these are not things that can be simply ‘set aside’ or glossed over – life is for living, of course, but starting where we are, with the tools and capabilities we have – that is our purpose, and, for better or worse is primarily our decision… not entirely, of course, but we have a great deal of bearing on our future – certainly more than a tree does….
Perhaps the realism of ‘being’ a tree, but tempered with a clarity of purpose, honesty of thought, compassion and love – it is then our purpose will make itself more apparent – a world-going, sailing vessel, a great way to move cargo, a beautiful floor, or a sturdy, shelter-giving house – or who knows?… This is where we are planted – here is when we are planted, and tomorrow is up to us – let us grow and develop and be worthwhile ‘trees’ in this world which needs strong, productive, loving, caring people! Things are planned for us, of that we can be certain – let us enjoy the life we have been handed!
So in a very real sense then as it is for trees, so it is for us – our lives apparently affect only a little of the world in which we live, and we sometimes glimpse only a little of what greater things are possible for us, and yet we each have a uniquely personal opportunity to grow and develop as we should, achieving great things from within the circumstances in which we are planted.’
~ Gaius Quinterus