ethics, morals

The Tree Lessons

As a young girl, I was encouraged to accept nature as a living entity. I must admit that I wasn’t thoroughly convinced by the idea, even though I knew that every component of nature is a living organism. To me, an entity couldn’t merely exist; an entity must have a voice that explains its life.

Albert Einstein once said, ‘Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.’ I looked and looked some more and one day I met a tree that spoke with me.

She was an extremely magnificent tree, tall and strong yet colourful and pretty. I wanted to congratulate her on her beauty and as though she could understand me, she dropped a flower at my feet. I was confounded for only a second and then my logic took over, ‘of course trees shed flowers, and they shed leaves too. As soon as autumn approaches, the trees start to prepare for the winter. They shed off the unnecessary and protect the critical parts. The tree isn’t so beautiful all the time, but it is this strong all its life.’

While watching her I realised that life is just like this tree. There are times when it is as radiant and then there are times when all life has got is dark and rough patches. It is melancholic but I wonder how else will we enjoy the brightness if it never gets dark?

She also pointed out that the flowers and the fruits are only the perks that life allows a few times per year. The real magic happens in the roots, the very core of the tree. The root, most will admit, isn’t the prettiest feature of any tree, that’s probably why it lives in the ground. We need not see it but the tree stands testimony to its strength.

It absorbs the water and nutrient from the earth and builds what we see standing tall in front of us. It spreads its roots far and wide into the ground to evolve its foundation that will stand the test of times. It takes whatever the earth provides and flourishes what we admire. A tree is only a log of wood without its roots.

With some contemplation on Einstein’s words, I realised on this day that my outer self is subject to change. I may look good one day and the day after my hair might do its own thing. I may be cheerful one day and the next could be difficult to get by without breaking down. Just like the spring that brings flowers and the autumn that forces you to strip down to your bare minimum.

The bare minimum is what makes us who we are. We have all had times when decisions were so complex that we have had to ask some very hard questions to ourselves. When it all boils down to our principles, where something has got to give.

For example, at work, a few tasks have failed and we know that it is one person’s fault, this person is also our friend, however, they have refused to admit their error. Now, as a friend, we are supposed to support our friend, and as an employee, we are meant to be honest.

Two of the most important virtues, well, being virtuous is not instinctual, it is deeply contemplative. Therefore, we will take some time to dwell on this one. When we do, the choice is going to become us; we will be either a dishonest friend or a virtuous foe.

This is what builds our core, our soul. The winters will demonstrate who we are. And in the summers we will bear the fruits of our soul.

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