“But down deep, at the molecular heart of life, the trees and we are essentially identical.” ~ Carl Sagan
I recently spent some time in the trees. My husband and I took a four-day trip to Blue Ridge, Georgia and while the area is nestled within the embrace of the Appalachian Mountain Range, I could not appreciate the beauty of its peaks and valleys without the diverse framework of trees that adorn the slopes. We sat on the upper deck of our quiet little cabin each morning, and admired the distant camelback of the landscape; edges softened by the morning mist. But soon the trees that stood all around our rented property would pull our attention closer. Here we sat, two stories up on an open deck, yet the trees towered over us, as guardians of the land.
We spent time each day hiking the trails that led to waterfalls and aged bridges over rivers that bubbled with the pull of gravity, and bounced over and under the obstruction of tree roots and fallen branches and often, lengths of trunk that spanned the width of the water like natural trestles. On our walks we used trees as landmarks, and for respite. The leaves providing shade from the searing summer sun, and fallen logs, a footrest. Often, on steep inclines, a low branch or well-placed sapling could be used as a steadying handrail, and the series of roots exposed in a horizontal pattern, created a gentle stair-step along the path.
As a highlight of our trip, we made the decision to zipline for the very first time. There is no question it was a thrill to slide 75 feet above the earth, from tiny perch to tiny perch, for more than a mile. The zipping itself was invigorating but the time we spent standing on the narrow perches, while our guides adjusted our tethers and prepared us for the next run, provided us the opportunity to look at the world from the view point of a tree.
I like to use the image of a tree, in my yoga classes. With eyes closed, and the mental vision of a familiar tree in our mind’s eye, we can feel ourselves rooting to the earth. Imaginary tentacles spring from the bottoms of our feet, weaving into the sand or the soil, going deep enough to tap into the energy stored there. Once rooted, we might feel our spine rise up from our center with the strength and stability of a trunk; defying the force of the wind, or the weather, or the challenges of life that compromise where we stand. Our arms will sway and our head will float with the flexibility needed to embrace or to release thoughts, judgement, acceptance and love. The cells of our skin, like the bark of a tree, are the barrier between the outside elements and what we allow to pass through. We are a majestic pine, or a struggling seedling, or a gnarled and broken oak. We might be a towering Royal Palm, dancing in a tropical storm, or a bent and leaf-bare Hickory, fighting to reach the light, but we are together in the forest of life. Breathing the same air, sampling the elements of weather and obstructions; and living, as guardians of the landscape for as long we are here.
Nothing in the Nature lives for itself. Rivers don’t drink their own water. Trees don’t eat their own fruit. The Sun doesn’t shine for itself. A flower’s fragrance is not for itself.
Living for each other is the rule of nature.
~ Author Unknown
We use trees for shade and for decoration. Their trunks and branches support us as we rest and as we walk. The fruit of a tree nourishes. From dead limbs, we create fire. The products of a tree build homes and bridges, boxes and bags. You’re likely holding in your hand, right this very moment, paper pressed from the pulp of a tree. A mahogany or pine vessel could be your last resting place on earth. But more important than all else are the lessons we learn from trees. To create roots, and stand tall; to breathe deep and remain flexible; to share space with, and to protect, all living things.
Laurie Kasperbauer, RYT 200, enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes. Laurie is also an active Florida realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. She can be reached at Harborview Realty, 291 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island, or by calling 712-210-3853.