The Wisdom of Trees

I promise you, when I wrote this, a bristlecone pine tree was regarded as the oldest living thing on the planet … recently I was told it was a giant fungus! Decided to stick with the bristlecone pine as “The wisdom of mushrooms” just doesn’t cut it!!


The oldest living thing upon the face of the earth is apparently a bristlecone pine tree. It has lived for around five thousand years, and it has done so out in the wilderness, ten thousand foot up a mountain face in eastern Nevada, without the attention of the frail, insubstantial lives of men. This bristlecone pine has done nothing other than be a pine tree, it has never moved outside the role and requirements of being a pine tree, never once has it taken a flight of fancy and considered becoming a shrub or a flower, nor even an ash or an oak, it has resolutely remained a bristlecone pine tree. If longevity is a fair measure it appears to have had a modicum of success. It is very good at being a pine tree; it has being doing it for fifty centuries without pause or problem, and will probably carry on doing so for many years yet.

Allegedly the most intelligent creature on the planet, man lives for an average of seventy-five to eighty years. During this paltry period of time, most men and women consistently strive to be something they are not and were never meant to be. We all attempt to be better looking, thinner, smarter, more fashionable, wealthier, more successful, more popular, in fact just more. We spend the bulk of our lives pursuing some far off goal, and in the process run away from what and who we were meant to be.

We have been outsmarted by a pine tree!

This is a pine tree that has carried on in its own sweet pine tree way since before the traditional time of Noah and his ark, it had stood for a thousand years when God called Abraham and was nearly three thousand years old when Christ walked the earth.

This is an old tree!

I like to think that if this tree could talk, if it could tell its story, it would refer to us in the same way as we refer to ants. The bristlecone pine would speak in hushed, dry tones of the amazing industry and frenetic energy of these fleeting, fragile men and women, it would marvel at our adaptability and invention but at some point I think it might also be glad of its own durability, its tenacity and the fact that it doesn’t have to try so hard!

Trees are not nomads, hunter-gatherers, or farmers, nor do they have parliaments and democratically elected representatives, they have not invested in industries or even in recreational activities. Trees have not sought to advance their cause, they have not fought wars over land or race or religion, they do not plot and scheme to gain petty advantage, they do not crow at the misfortune of others. Trees are just trees, and therein lies their wisdom.

Trees don’t fuss and moan when the rain doesn’t come or the sun doesn’t shine to their schedule, they don’t uproot themselves and transplant to a different area if the view doesn’t meet their taste. Trees invest their time and energy in growth; they put their energy into their roots and their branches.

How much time and energy do you waste attempting to be something or someone you are not, and were never meant to be?


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