I’m a big fan of trees. If I’m out on the front porch, I often look across the street to pay attention to them. Sometimes when I’m jogging, I’ll just start looking at the trees along the sidewalk as I pass. I live in a city (Sacramento) with a lot of trees, in fact, it’s often called “The City of Trees.” There’s a particular park I often stop at during my runs, and I like to sit at the picnic table and commune with the trees.
I’m not really a naturalist in the scientific sense. I don’t really know tree species or all that. Sure, I’m happy to learn, but I don’t necessarily seek out that knowledge. Instead, there’s something about focusing on trees that is satisfying, calming, and clarifying. They never really bother me, never really stress me out. Instead, they are a source of generally positive things: shade, beauty, sometimes fruit, and of course oxygen. They also make pleasant movements in the wind, and birds and squirrels make them their home.
If I need to change the subject from something swirling in my head, trees provide a nice thing to focus on. Trees seem peaceful and happy simply being there, no matter their fate. Whether they live their whole lives towering above the ground, or end up as firewood or as part of a house or table, trees give off calm equanimity. Like flowers that bloom, their beingness seems to be enough.
For us humans, there can be so much feeling that we need to “do something.” So often, our minds play tricks on us (I wrote about this yesterday). I imagine that trees don’t suffer from that fate. I imagine they simply go with the flow of each day, each year, each century (if they live that long… and many do!). Peaceful and content for all their days.
It’s not that I’m saying I want to be a tree (although peaceful and content for all your days sounds really good!). I’m generally happy being a human, even when mind knocks around at times like a pinball. Yet trees can be a great reminder to be at peace, no matter what our circumstances. By focusing on them, we can calm ourselves.
So I say, “Think about trees!” You could hardly go wrong (admittedly, if a tree fell on your house or something, then maybe this won’t work for you so well… but there’s probably something else you can focus on that will work!).