"There is nothing permanent except change" - Heraclitus
It is early springtime and already the days have started to get noticeable longer. Nature is waking up, not least the trees. Tiny buds on their barren boughs are starting to swell. Before long they will burst open revealing fresh, bright green leaves and the first blossom of the year.
But it wasn't always like this. A few months ago, disaster struck. Foliage started to wither, die and fall to the ground as temperatures plummeted and the days became dark. The trees were stripped of all life, leaving behind what appeared to be an empty, lifeless shell.
Wouldn't it be interesting if during this seasonal cycle trees were able to think like humans? I imagine the thought process going something like this:
I am a success
During the summer the tree congratulates itself on it's successes. Earlier in the year it produced beautiful flowers, now it sits swaying gently in the breeze, adorned with rich green foliage. Passers by stop to admire it's beauty. Its leafy branches are a nesting place for birds, a playground for squirrels, a place of shade for weary travellers.
The tree feels very happy, it's become a very fine tree indeed, just like any self respecting tree should aspire to be.
I am a failure
Then, as summer draws to a close, things start to change. Imagine the panic as previously healthy leaves start to wither, turn brown and fall off. The birds leave and passers by no longer give it a second look.
The tree tries to resist, to cling on, to find some technique to be a successful tree again. The days get cold and dark. Life becomes miserable.
The tree no longer feels like a real tree, it feels like a failure, it can't even produce a single leaf. All winter it keeps trying this technique and that technique - 'The 7 Day Plan to Lusher Leaves', 'The Secret Hacks of Hollywood Hollies', 'From Deciduous to Evergreen in 3 Easy Steps', and on and on. Nothing works.
I am a success
Then one day, several months later, buds start to appear. The buds start to swell and tiny leaves emerge. The tree thinks it must have been that 'Super Sap Formula' it had been taking, the one extracted from the Amazonian rain forest.
Finally, the tree thinks, I can be successful again. With great effort it squeezes out every leaf on every bough, hardly noticing the lengthening days and warm spring sunshine that are its real masters.
Within a few weeks the tree is magnificent again. The tree feels very happy, it's become a very fine tree indeed, just like any self respecting tree should aspire to be.
The restored tree sways contentedly in the summer sunshine for weeks, congratulating itself on its hard won success. Until, after several months, there is a noticeable chill in the air, and once again the leaves start to wither.
Fortunately, trees don't need to think. Beyond thinking, they have an intelligence that knows that life is change, that cycles repeat, that apparent successes and failures come and go. Sometimes, with all our thinking, those are things we forget.
Image by NellsPhotography