This afternoon, after measuring a backyard, I noticed this deliciously old, gnarly tree down the street, silhouetted against the clear, blue sky. It has been there for much longer than I’ve been around. It has witnessed generations walk by, good times, bad times, war and peace. I imagine those wild, randomly twisting limbs somehow represent crossroads – moments of doubt, and disbelief – events so traumatic that they changed the direction of its growth.
Bark gets damaged, sometimes branches break in the assault of storms – little by little the tree deteriorates. Death by a thousand cuts. I always wonder what they’ve seen, what kind of historical events took place in front of them, where they’ve stood, locked in place for centuries.
Branches fall, roots get eroded – yet the trees remain where they are – in the same place they have been their entire existence. The oldest oak where I grew up has a circumference of about 25′. It is many hundred years old. Many human lives are contained within the span of its lifetime, and I can’t help but think how our human lives are on such a drastically smaller scale than these giants. Yet, we are a little bit like them.
Most of us start dying from within, long before the decay is visible on the outside. The trauma we suffer from our surroundings chip away at our souls and our bodies (as an extension of our souls) – one little piece at a time. Each hurtful event in the world around us, serve to weaken us. They say what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I honestly don’t believe that. Do you?
Like trees, we can remain standing long after we are gutted. But, we are definitely not stronger. Winds of hate, intolerance, fear, and blame erode the core of our humanity, and breaks down our resistance. Compassion, acceptance, tolerance and love do the opposite.