08 May We Are Like Trees: There’s a Purpose to Every Season
SUNLIGHT; it warms us through and provides nourishment for practically all the sentient life on Earth. The Sun acts as a guide that steers us towards happiness and sustenance. When we fall, when we’re down, it often only takes a step into the sunlight to feel alive once again.
The Sun is like some benevolent, encompassing energy, unable to be looked at head on, yet it bolsters our path forward from above — for the Sun provides hope.
A tree as old as time, a tree as old as life itself, revels in the sunlight. Beginning as a seed, a tree procures nutrients from the soil; it grabs hold of the earth and grows with the help of the Sun’s rays.
A tree is patient; but when it’s time to develop its roots diverge and fortify. A tree looks towards the Sun for life-sustaining nutrients, warmth, and unremitting energy.
Often, the remedy for what ails us is a day spent in the Sun. I didn’t know how badly I needed this until I recently took a day to unplug from all technology — with nothing but a book, a journal and a day to idle away, I left home to recharge, or rather, to grow.
We are like trees — our spirit as old as time, our common path as old as life itself. The answers to life’s perennial questions are seldom found in the constant need to fill our time with doing, just to do.
We aren’t machines, and it only causes anxiety and stress to act like them. Rather, we must look to nature, return to nature, and act as nature to discover any sort of path forward into healing.
I’ve found the greatest joy, peace, and spiritual growth not in acting like a machine, but in living like a tree — patiently spreading my roots, at one with the Earth, thus at one with my truest self.
A Day In the Sun
We need the days away from what we know so well — emails, texts, updates; we need the time to do nothing but think deeply and let our thoughts spill onto the page.
These thoughts build up over weeks, months, years; they get buried beneath the trivialities of the day. But with time and space, they resurface. In time we must face them anyhow.
It continues to amaze me how much we may learn in any single day. Not only from books, TV, or the opinions and perspectives of others. These avenues are necessary to broaden our scope and explore alternative viewpoints.
But when we truly want to learn, we must turn inward. The questions, and even the answers, perhaps especially the answers, exist within us. There’s so much we may teach ourselves, simply from taking the time and space to think. Of course, there will often be days where we can’t get away, when the week asks for our undivided attention.
But we must steal back those moments of peace to step outside and feel the Sun. Allow yourself the time to think about how you feel: dig deep and ask you’re where you want to be, if, perhaps, this time away is something you need more of.
How can you make that change? How can you make more time to be like a tree, to spread your roots and and grow in the Sun, where you’re truly meant to flourish?
The Seasons of Life: Summer — Growth
Keep your face always towards the sunshine, and shadows will fall behind you. — Walt Whitman
A single tree will produce fruit-bearing branches and magnificent leaves. The fruit will fall to feed the weary, the leaves that once provided shade will sway in the wind and become bare.
In the winter, the ghostly forests sleep; in the summer they become full again, growing, reaching towards the sky, blooming with distinctive colors. Each year the cycle repeats, for a tree will only last if able to endure the different seasons of life.
More than merely enduring, a tree needs the different seasons of growth and decay to thrive.
We are like trees — sometimes we’re growing towards the Sun, taking in the rays, becoming stronger, wiser, fuller. Perhaps this is our summer; it may last for a week, a month, even five years where we’re so consumed by what we’re doing we contain boundless energy and a zest for life.
When you’re in this season, find gratitude in the growth and share your fruit with those who need it. Provide shade for the disheartened; continue rising, building, and creating with a full heart.
Take what you can from the season in the Sun. It might not last forever, and that’s more than okay.
Autumn — Contemplation
Some trees appear to have dropped their leaves instantaneously; down they have come on all sides, at the first earnest touch of autumn's wand, making a sound like rain. — Henry David Thoreau, Natural History Essays
Sometimes we need to shed our leaves; sleep for a while, think patiently in our resilience. We mustn’t get down on ourselves in this necessary season. When will we feel good again? Why can’t we find the answers to this problem?
We might question what we’re doing, if it’s the right thing, if it’s sustainable, if we’re moving towards the person we know we may be. Sometimes I feel like I should be happier, but I can’t put a finger on why I feel the way I do.
It’s okay to fall into the depths of contemplation and wonder. It’s healthy to question; it’s human to feel the need to rest.
Pain comes from not knowing — how to solve a problem, how to find an answer, how to grow and get a hold of the Sun’s nutrients once again. These are the days when the wind blows through our branches, withered, dainty, but no less beautiful.
These are the days when it would help for a friend to come and put their back against our trunk and think for a while against this tree, once so full of life.
It’s in the seasons when we feel our leaves shed that make room for the next season of growth. When the leaves aren’t doing their job anymore, converting sunlight into food, the leaves fall to the ground. Trees know when to let go.
There’s a give and take, and perhaps before we’re ready to grow full again we must wither from our past. Our leaves will burn in autumn tints to fall, sway, and crumble naturally as the Earth does.
There’s profound beauty on the precipice of holding on, as a leaf transitions from green, to red, to amber and brown. It’s in finally releasing and letting go where we’re open to a new kind of growth. First we may need to rest for a while.
Winter — Rest
We sleep, and at length awake to the still reality of a winter morning. — Henry David Thoreau, Natural History Essays
Clouds will roll in, they will bring rain, the sky will grey as we’ve earned our time to rest. Underneath the soil, our roots are becoming fortified with every drop of nourishing rain.
We don’t need simply to endure the search for answers or a new beginning. Turn towards the Sun, because it’s there behind the looming clouds; it’s there beyond the veil formed of raindrops that sustain the Earth like nectar of the sky.
Enjoy the drops of rain — cherish each season as an opportunity. We’d be nothing without our pain, unaware of where we’ve been when the time comes for us to blossom.
Be patient in the pain and continue asking questions. The Sun is there, and we will grow, we will change, our branches will break and become strong once again. There’s always something to take away, a lesson to every season, a change of temperature and winds readying us to grow when the spring comes again.
The still reality of a winter morning.
We need this downtime to be still, not only once a year, but once a month, once a week if we can. The downtime is beautiful; it paves the way to grow.
Spring — Rebirth
Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each. — Henry David Thoreau Natural History Essays
You’ll find your way here, back to spring and budding flowers. Each of us is on an individual journey; every path will undergo the different seasons of life — the rays of summer and the depths of winter, the shedding of fall and, when we’re ready, the rebirth that spring brings.
It will take longer for some to step into the sunlight once again. I constantly wonder when my time will come, when my body will be free of pain, when my questions will find an answer. But in searching, I only confuse myself more.
Perhaps it takes tuning into what the Earth is telling me. It’s on this precipice that I’ve found profound meaning — from asking, seeking, and exploring the depths of my soul to help others in any way I can.
Stay the course, let go of tensions and the need to find an answer. Let go of all the leaves that have built up; it’s their time to blow away.
The Sun is out. Our roots run deep; for they’ve been strengthening through every trial, every season, every day we decide to give it everything we have. Spring is here; we may rest as we grow in every season, no matter what life throws our way.
We are like trees — our spirit as old as time, our path as old as life.