October/November 2017 | 400 Years of Wisdom


Last August I had the privilege of touching the trunk of a 400-year-old tree.  Words failed me every time I tried, not to only understand for myself, but then describe what I felt to anyone else. What I CAN say is that tree has seen a lot, and what I didn't expect to feel was the sadness and solemn, yet deep, acceptance. When I really stop to feel and step inside the tree's life even for a moment, wouldn't I also feel sad? Having outlived all my friends and family, and then having to witness humans killing, raping, and abusing other humans? The tree was right near many southern and very historic plantations on Wadmalaw Island outside Charleston. The whole island felt like we stepped back in to time: a time full of heartache and oppression.

My teacher, Master Ou, says that trees and plants have emotions just like animals. They have an essential spirit. I have experienced this with trees on hikes and on my land. I often feel their personalities and sentiments and sometimes a response to my care and love towards them. That 400 year old tree had more emotion and history than I could even contain in my tiny body. It felt beyond me, yet so deep within me, and I couldn't trace an end to it. I can liken it to a feeling of being under water and not seeing the ocean floor but having awareness of its presence.

In Autumn trees let go of their leaves; maybe they are letting go of emotions too?  Just like we follow these intrinsic cycles of nature, I wonder what their letting go is like? The advantage trees have is not being able to succumb to their emotions in order to make that decision. They don't possess the reasoning ability we do. Worry, hesitation, anxiety, and memories don't prevent them from moving forward. They don't need to journal about it, check the weather report, read their daily horoscope or make a public announcement. They just let go. They don't analyze whether they should let go and why. They don't call their friends to discuss the matter (though I would gladly be that friend). No one is necessarily around watching it happen. There is no applause or congratulations. There is no effort or struggle. It is not good or bad, it just is.

Sometimes we absorb more than we can handle, and while it's not 400 years, it can feel like it. But what if we could follow the trees' examples in Fall and do the same? We can benefit greatly from a seasonal discharging of what's dead anyway. We know it's time but some part of our mental habitual thought patterns still wants to hold on for dear life. What if we could release the confluence of opinions and judgements about it? If we are able to relinquish the committee of indecision, the calculations and planning within us, then, in the space of letting go, we can let it all be, just as it is, through another cycle, empowered and free. What if, in letting go, and slowly embracing our past, we can embody that same deep acceptance of our 400 yr old example, and fill that space with healthier and happier vibrations?

In Peace,