The Wisdom of Trees, Photo by BradensEye featuring artwork by Charles Gaines

Life is entirely about choices. We choose to wake up or stay asleep. We decide to move or stay put. We consider making babies or going our solo way. We want a partner to share things with or ride our own waves. It all comes through the filter of options. It’s all rooted in our core. Our abilities and strength to choose wisely come from robust roots. Our roots shoot up and out from our core. Our core is hardy soil our roots require to be alive an kicking well. In all this analogy I think we are like awesome trees.

Be the tree. Dear friends ‘growing’ through life hardships lately reminded me about the symbolism of the tree. Trees have always been one of my totems. Trees are a rock-solid image to ground me when I’m losing it, support me when I’m feeling strong, and guide me when I’m a little, or a lot, off center. Thinking about trees fills me with oxygen. Trees remind me to care deeply from my core inside, through my roots, out and up into the ever-growing person I was born to be. Trees gather in groups, often called forests, just as I like to gather with so many diverse friends of mine. Trees thrive in water, and I cannot live without water! Trees love a good bath or downpour shower, as I’ve become known for my adoration of dosing and dousing myself with water in all kinds of ways. Trees seek a good suntan and lighten up when given plenty of shine. Trees offer a comforting space and shelter, just as I’m able to offer when I’m settled in my roots.

Being the tree is about how we can look to a mighty symbol in our life to support our best existence and weather our life storms. Set your thinking to grow, be abundant and strong, and seek good health, energy, and positivity. Trees also represent new beginnings, which is what each new day delivers us to embrace. Trees have needs of nourishment through air and water, good grounding, and they love attention from humans and animals, while some prefer their solitary stance with just the natural elements. Trees are a symbol of peace, and who couldn’t use a bunch of that!

Trees may emit lush green leaves or flowers. Some trees have soft outsides (bark) and some are smooth. Trees’ typically sturdy base might be colorful like a rainbow, often shades of rich brown or black, golden yellows hues, vibrant shades of tan, oranges or reds, and can be white as snow or variations of such. All may blend into their surrounding or stick out boldly. Tree branches may lean towards the ground, even touching it to connect with things around them or they may solely lift towards the sun, or expose their roots to source their power.

Likely we’ve all seen trees that have not received the best attention. Trees may be barren, stripped bare, limp, blackened from smoke and fire damage, cut off, split into pieces and otherwise scattered about in less than good shape. There is a possibility of regrowth in the worn state of most trees. Through all tree time, there remains hope for the future, as trees naturally replenish with their enduring seed, body, and fruits.

Mother nature relies on trees in the cycle of life and uses trees to protect and to thrash about in her biddings to keep renewing on the larger or Darwinian scale. We earthlings have used trees for so centuries to support our expansion, needs, and play. We have built boats to go farther into a previously uncharted territory. We created paper to influence storytelling and keeping history, among so many modern practicalities of paper. We have decimated fields forests of trees for energy to run many of our machines and ‘toys’. We give thanks for the coolness of the shadows as a tree produces in the heat of a day. We swing from, picnic, make love, climb, build forts and houses around and in trees.

Trees are an immortal living legacy. Their seeds go on past their lifespan to create new life that replicates their being. Tree seeds are like our deeds in life. Our deeds are in all that we do, whether we’re creating life in the form of new humans, or we’re constructing inventions, supporting others and planet, companies, products, helping craft, and connecting in so many ways. Trees have been impressive healers and carry magical capabilities.

Allow yourself a visionary tree experience. Find a tree you can focus on. Maybe you’ll pick a photo or an artwork of a tree, or a live one somewhere you can see it or even go to touch it to connect with this tree. Close your eyes and really try to be ‘with’ the tree. Think about the beauty of the tree and it’s amazing contribution to all things. Then join the two — be the tree. Melt your thoughts about the tree into your thoughts about yourself. Realize you are like the tree in your grace, stamina, liveliness, the courage to withstand, intensity, good looks, the friendship of those around you, and the unity you seek for your happiest life. Recognize all your tree-like ways of being. See yourself as a magnificent tree and the tree as love — love yourself.

This story came to me during a favorite Mar Vista Farmers Market break from the glittering California sunshine burning my all-too-white skin I’d forgotten to apply any covering or sunblock to as protection. I took a timeout from my strolling and stopped to sit beneath a large tree’s shade. There on the sidewalk ground right at my feet was a flyer for an art show. I excitedly noticed the featured artwork graphic for the show was of a tree. I was under a tree viewing a splendid tree image. It was all too connected for me to ignore. I snapped a photo and scooped up the flyer to do some homework on the computer later about the artist Charles Gaines then unknown to me. Further ironies unfolded. I learned the show was from February 2015, yet the flyer was in good condition. In fun congruency, Mr. Gaines teaches and resides in Los Angeles, where I’ve been based since 1992. The best twist was learning that Charles was born in Charleston, South Carolina. This is my beloved home state, where I was born too! I graduated from College of Charleston, where my mom, aunt, and many friends still live and where I love to visit. And, with full circle, John’s Island next door to Charleston is the home of one of the most cherished trees I’ve ever met — the Angel Oak. Many worship this tree and travel from far away to see it. When I think of trees when visioning myself, this image of the Angel Oak comes into my mind’s eye often.

Reach for the skies, the stars, the Heavens — Be the beautiful tree you know you can be!

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