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Belief Journal: The Tree of Life

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From my new blog Belief Journal

One might often look to the natural world as a backdrop to mankind’s leading actor. Nature has always undoubtedly had a place in our lives; however, it is rarely conceded as more important than man. The state of our natural globe today cements the idea, that nature can only be seen as vulnerable. We believe that we must protect the globe, preventing it from destruction at our own hands. We are both the oppressor and the saviour. We fight ourselves over the best course of action to take, whilst nature cowers in the background and is continually harmed regardless. Talking in terms of a collective unity – we do not revere nature as perhaps our ancestors did – we bicker over the future of the planet as though we are quarrelling parents debating the custody of a child – and this ignorance of nature’s “opinion” blinds us to the things that nature is trying to teach us. 

There are many purposes to one’s life. In my own, religious doctrine cements that life is a test and that it is only a temporary sphere. There are those who live life to enjoy themselves, some people live to help others, to gain from others and myriad of other reasons. I propose that a compromise that encompasses all but the most selfish of these purposes can be seen from the observation of the natural world and more specifically the life of a tree. 

For the natural world has plenty to offer and it takes sitting an observing it in order to learn. It is not a place for the rhetoric and yelling of the political sphere, but a place of reflection and a place of learning. Those who deflect the need for the revival of the natural world see something to exploit, to trample. They miss the idea that nature can be considered superior to man and must be lived with in harmony and not with dominion. This stubbornness could easily be alleviated, were the perpetrators able to stop and look closely at the detail of the entity they are so easily destroying. In nature we see a reflection of ourselves, an opportunity for learning and a broad blueprint of how to live life. 

At our core would be the beliefs that define how we make decisions. These are made up of religion, moral values, beliefs on society and base instincts. We may choose to believe these things as a reaction to our upbringing, to the soil that has defined our early, developmental stage and has either taught us these beliefs through familial lessons or allowed us to shape them ourselves as a result of an adverse experience. The trunk becomes a, usually subconscious, base camp for decisions, relationships and learning. These core beliefs – the trunk – are tested as we get older. Much like a stong wind will test the strength of a tree, tests are a constant part of life. And it is through hardship, struggle and suffering that we become more resilient too. These external tests – like the wind – often arise from forces we can’t control and we must endure them in order to survive.  

However, these tests can also arise from within as a result of our upbringing. Our childhood is a vital developmental stage. The roots we are given are tough. The memories of younger years are often buried, causing us to act in ways that are inexplicable until childhood can be analysed and seen in an objective light. These roots can hit concrete and are forced to change course and grow into something new. We are given the choice to resist change, not to heal our wounded inner children or come to terms with parts of our childhood that harmed our behavioural instinct or to change course and understand a different way of being. This could come in the form of beliefs that are challenged when exposed to new situations outside of the home you grew up in, relearning how to interact with people when you realise your flaws, or recognising a prejudice or internal bias that must be rectified. 

These trials both internal and external can be crippling and ceaseless and often leave marks on our psyche’s like the grooves in a tree trunk. We can be damaged through these tests and while we all have the potential to grow on our own, we require the presence of both water and sunlight. The equivalent in our lives? People. It is more often than not that our interaction with our fellow human beings helps us to grow. We take the trials that we all face as a result of outside factors and upbringing and we add the perspective of another human and suddenly the wind doesn’t seem as strong. Our experiences with others, our branches, have steadied us and they have helped us to grow. We find comfort in knowing that we don’t go through these trials alone and that each person will have faced their own tests too. We hear people’s opinions, argue with them, agree with them and respond to their lives with stories of our own. We grow new abilities from the experiences we have with people and these might stay or they might become redundant. We may shed our leaves and grow new ones as the years go by, growing in skill and wisdom until the time comes for spring. 

So, what is the aim of such a pretentious analogy, it is clear that to recognise the human journey as a life of growth is to observe and adopt nature’s creed, but to what end? What do we do with all the skills we have grown from the experiences we have had as a result of the people we have met relating to our core principles? What happens when the leaves fall, the branches are grown anew from new sunlight and fresh water, and the trunk stands as strong as it ever has been? 

We share. We teach. We practice. We help. We let our seeds fall and we give out oxygen to the other people we live with on this planet. We share our knowledge and we help the communities to understand how to grow strong trunks with numerous branches and countless leaves. And we – as nature has graciously done for mankind – yield our position to others. We step out of the limelight. We continue to grow ourselves, steadily watching over our communities as new shoots come into the light. We do not hoard the information. We do not reject those who do not agree with us, as trees do not choose where their seeds fall or who breathes in their oxygen. They do not see us as the enemy, as many people see them. Trees open this knowledge out into the world in hopes that people will see it. 

And yet those who need to see it most, who are indeed, still saplings, stubbornly refusing to grow or change, ignore it to try and exercise power over nature. They keep their power and their experiences to themselves and have no branches. And while they may believe that they are strong, they are small on the inside. They have not cultivated their inner tree and are suffering for it, because strong trees will live for years beyond them – whilst they become the undesirable weeds of history. Strong trees are made when you stop trying to be the centre of attention and realise that you are now part of a beautiful forest. 

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