Tag Archives: nature

Twenty-First Century Treatise: The Law of Diversity

As I’ve asserted earlier, we are as subject to Nature’s Laws as every other living thing on earth, even our social structures are bound by them. Current events in the US and Europe, manifested in groups such aIdentity Evropa or Unite the Right, whose aims are to create a homogeneous culture of religion and race, provide the opportunity to examine the merits of whether homogeneity or diversity enhance our societies.

There is no doubt that Nature exhibits a strong preference for diversity over homogeneity in the physical realm. No two snowflakes are alike, no two human finger prints are alike, and even identical twins develop differences in their individual DNA despite their origins from the same fertilized egg.

Consider the ruling families of Europe of not-so-long-ago who intermarried frequently as a way to keep a homogeneous bloodline and consequently curated a small gene pool as a result. Smaller gene pools equate to less diversity giving recessive genes higher probabilities of expression. This explains the frequency of  hemophilia in several royal families. (Conversely, unhealthy dominant genes could not be diluted in smaller gene pools, such was the case with the Hapsburgs.) The present kingdom of Saudi Arabia is challenged with problematic health issues due to its tradition of intermarriage at all levels of society: 

“But research at hospitals and medical centers indicates that the rates of some metabolic diseases may be as much as 20 times higher among Saudi Arabia’s 14 million people than they are in populations where the gene pool is more widely mixed.

Blood disorders such as thalassemia, a hemoglobin deficiency and sickle cell anemia, as well as diabetes are widespread, particularly in some provinces with high intermarriage rates…”

Humans aren’t the only animals that suffer from a lack of diversity due to small gene pools. Our fascination with purebred dogs means that these canines come with more inherent health issues than their mixed breed counterparts. Race horse breeders understand the problems associated with a small, homogeneous gene pool, and “have done comparatively well in maintaining genetic diversity…”

On the physical level, diversity allows for healthier outcomes overall, while homogeneity guarantees some genetic complications in future generations. But does the  strength of diversity  transcend the physical realm to the societal realm? We can unequivocally conclude that social and cultural diversity have a direct, positive effect upon our nations and their economics.

For example, studies consistently demonstrate,that mixed groups produce better outcomes to challenges than homogeneous groups when applied to workplace creativity and vibrancy.

Though people often feel more comfortable with others like themselves, homogeneity can hamper the exchange of different ideas and stifle the intellectual workout that stems from disagreements. (Kellogg School of Management)

Distinguished University Professor, Richard Boyatzis explains the benefits of diversity this way:

Diversity initiatives can have important and interesting social justice benefits, but the real reason you want to pursue diversity programs is for innovation. You want diversity of thought…Differences in race, gender, and socioeconomic background are three characteristics, but so are differences in learning style or differences in professional field….If a group has an ability to create dialogue, diversity of thought helps them not get into groupthink. 

A recent, extensive study  reveals that countries benefit greatly on an economic scale thanks to the diversity that immigration provides. For instance, young migrants tend to make up a larger portion of a population than natives, this is a crucial detail,  “Migration will play an increasingly vital role in coping with this transition and easing the burden on care and social security systems.”

Another economic benefit of immigration, among many, is that migrants are employed in “jobs…often characterized as ‘household production’ services. The increased presence of immigrants in this sector has made home services more affordable, which in turn has allowed more native-born women — especially highly educated women — to join the labor force or to increase their hours worked.”(Berkeley).

A venture into the political realm allows us to easily identify the problems with a homogeneous political system as those are most commonly known as dictatorships or tyrannies – where one strand of thought is compulsive throughout a society and any opposition is silenced immediately. There is no freedom in these societies. Historically and currently, there are plenty of examples of these – Mao’s China or Kim’s North Korea come to mind. But where two or more political parties exist within a nation, debate and compromise often lead to an overall better effect for the majority, as exhibited in the past few centuries of diverse governments across Europe and in the US. Additionally, these systems innately allow for freedom of differing opinions, freedom of research, as well as freedom for national discourse.

Our genetics, workplaces, economics, and political systems thrive best with diversity, exactly as Nature would have it. In the socio-cultural context, we witness that the Law of Diversity muscles its way through any attempt to homogenize our world.

One of the most obvious examples of cultural homogeneity is the ubiquity of American fast food chains exported throughout the world. Yet even these are not cookie-cutter establishments, their menus are adjusted to the native culture of their location. From “shrimp nuggets” offered by KFC in Singapore, to a “black Ninja burger” from Burger King in Japan, to a “dried pork and seaweed” donut at Dunkin’ Donuts in China, the Law of Diversity is manifested despite the homogenization of branding. Where imported cultural staples are adopted, there still remains a force of Diversity; New York sushi restaurants adapt the Japanese food to their Kosher clientele; in South America, sushi is dipped in salsa rather than soy sauce.

I’ve observed that workplace homogenization in the form of uniforms has prompted some eccentric personal grooming habits or accessorizing as a way of creating diversity; it’s the reason the tattoo culture has bloomed the last two decades, or facial piercings, or funky hairstyles and coloring. The trend of socks or ties in outrageous colors and patterns buck against the boardroom homogeneity of dark suits, allowing for an expression of differentiation. It’s as if on a subconscious level, we’re finding ways to be diverse from one another despite global, corporate pressure to look homogeneous.

At our very base, cellular level, there exists Diversity, and we are healthier for it. It should come as no surprise then, that our social structures, bound by the same Natural Law, are healthier when Diversity is preferred over homogeneity. Though some of us still strive to create a homogeneous culture, with one religion and one political system and one dominate race, Nature’s Law of Diversity will see to it that it is not permanent.

Here’s to our differences, for they constitute creativity and robust societies.

In peace,

Frankie

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The Laws of Dichotomy and Balance

Installment 1 of 21st Century Treatise.


Nature is always, tirelessly, constantly, and ceaselessly striving for balance. This is because it is comprised of endless pairs of opposites:  matter/anti- matter, light/dark, positive/negative, on/off, high/low, male/female, animus/anima, ad infinitum.

There are two kinds of balance at work in Nature. We might immediately think of the scale kind of balance model, as in the ‘scales of justice’, similar to a teeter totter. A scale balance is an either/or situation: the energy on one side significantly outweighs the energy of other side, and we get a lopsided situation; or the energy is of equal weight on either side and balances perfectly. There’s no middle ground with the scale model of balance.

There is also a bell curve model of balance, where two extremes or opposites exist but the majority of the energy falls in the middle, creating a ‘bell shape.’ This inherently makes for a flexible, more stable kind of balance. The energy can shift slightly to one side or the other, but the system will remain viable and functioning. Since the dynamics of the bell curve balance place most of the energy in the middle of the spectrum, we can therefore perceive balance of this kind as belonging in the ‘middle.’ (Interestingly, our language is teeming with references to this ‘middle’ balance kind of model. We use the term ‘middle ground’ to indicate compromise, balancing opposite opinions if you will, and moving forward.  The term ‘middle class’ defines the bulk of a nation’s economic, social, and labor energy. The wisdom of the Buddhist concept of ‘The Middle Way’ encourages moderation instead of the extremes of asceticism or self-indulgence.)

Examples of both models of balance abound in Nature.

On a scale model of balance, we know there had to be just the right amount of gravitational balance on our planet in order for Life to have developed; if it were slightly more or slightly less, Life could not have formed. Atoms possess the dichotomy of positively and negatively charged protons and electrons. This dichotomy allows them to bond together to form molecules as their charges attract to each other to achieve balance. The wind that tousles our hair is the direct result of a low pressure system and a high pressure system meeting and striving to achieve atmospheric balance.

An example of a bell curve model of balance can be seen in the age distribution of any animal group, there are a few youngsters and a few oldsters (technically termed outliers), but the majority of the group is middle age.  If the energy of the system shifts too far one way or the other, let’s say there becomes an abnormally high elderly population, then we begin to see problems within the working model. In Japan, for instance, the growing elderly population is affecting the development of robotics. Since there are fewer caretakers than elderly, life size robots are being used as a substitute. In the US, the retiring Baby Boomer generation is leaving an imbalance in job fields such as engineering and electrical specialists since there aren’t enough younger people trained in these areas. It is also straining our Social Security and public retirement systems, which means funds to keep roads maintained or hire more staff for forest upkeep or open another sheriff’s position are compromised. Our current resources, both monetary and labor, are scarce due to an imbalance in retired citizens.

Nature is obsessed with balancing the millions of dichotomies inherent in its makeup.  We humans are as subject to this peculiarity as every other part of the Universe, in fact it is ingrained within our very cellular structure. The membranes of our cells are careful ‘gatekeepers,’ allowing only a certain amount of fluid in or out to maintain homeostasis – balance. If Nature’s Law of Balance matters at microscopic levels, then it’s not much of a leap to understand that even the things we create: our institutions, our social frameworks, our cultural elements, and even our personal lives – are subject to the same Natural Law. When an imbalance occurs, whether from a germ that causes a fever in an individual, or greed that has caused a nation’s economy to become imbalanced, Nature will ensure that it is resolved to a balanced system. That’s Her thing.

It’s not always a smooth process to achieve balance. High/Low pressure systems can produce some nasty, damaging storms. Social balance is difficult to attain if one group refuses to give up control or privilege, as seen during the Civil Rights movement in the US. National economic imbalance places undue, extreme hardship on a country’s citizens who eventually push back against the policies that created the imbalance, the storming of the Bastille, for example. Here’s the glitch about achieving balance: the process is often violent. As severe weather storms can sometimes incur human casualties, often the restoration of social/political/economic balance comes at the cost of human life as well.

Balance is one of the most obvious Laws of Nature for us to observe, but we often miss the principle that our social constructs are as subject to this dynamic as any other. Take a moment today after reading a news article to reflect on the influence of this important Law. Does the article relate to some nuanced issue of balance? Consider the many situations the Law of Balance affects our lives. Don’t we strive to balance our work / home lives each day? Finally, understand that we can make good decisions based on the actions of this Law, both personally and nationally.

Thank you for reading. Next in this series: The Law of Balance applied to Economics.

Peace,

Frankie


21st Century Treatise, Introduction

Nature will not let us fret and fume. She does not like our benevolence or our learning much better than she likes our frauds and wars. When we come out of the caucus, or the bank, or the abolition convention, or the temperance-meeting, or the transcendental club, into the fields and woods, she says to us, ‘so hot? my little Sir.’”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Spiritual Laws,” Essays, First Series (1841, repr. 1847).

We humans have achieved some pretty amazing things since the agricultural revolution some twelve thousand years ago. Once we learned to manipulate Nature in various ways to suit our needs, we catapulted our species to soaring heights. Our clever inventions allow us to lead a very charmed life today compared to our ancestors.  We work in carefully controlled indoor climates, we live longer, and we are more aware than ever of our natural surroundings and how they function.  We understand the universe in ways incomprehensible to Copernicus and we understand our bodies in ways unfathomable to da Vinci. We don’t need to hunt any longer for our daily food and we don’t even need to have sex to pass on our genetics. We’ve been to the moon, we’ve put a tread mark on Mars, and some of us actually live in space. We homo sapiens have come a long, long way indeed.

While we bask in our achievements and enjoy their conveniences, there is cause for worry. As we’ve progressed from cave-dwellers to space station tenants, a great disconnect occurred between Mother Nature and her bi-pedal children because we are no longer as intimate with her workings as we once were. It seems a logical by-product of our advanced civilization: we live and work mainly indoors and get our food from cans and bottles and jars. Our experiences with Nature are confined to camping trips, gardening, and domesticated canines and felines. Limiting our interaction with Mother Nature, and becoming independent from her, means that we have lost touch with her. We fail to remember – and recognize – that we are as subject Nature’s Laws as the rest of the universe. In fact, even our social structures and the civilizations we build from them are governed by Nature’s Law’s – “So hot? my little Sir.”

Twenty-first Century Treatise explores the affect of Nature’s Laws on our social structures and civilizations in order to discover some very important lessons about ourselves and how our societies work. We learn how Nature’s Laws effect our personal lives. We learn that Nature’s Laws apply to our social frameworks and we can make pragmatic decisions using those Laws to develop policies that sustain healthy societies. We learn that it is possible to make conscious, long term, positive political decisions through the lens of Nature’s Laws. We learn that certain areas of each nation must be balanced in order to be healthy and growing; and that we can control those areas with effective legislation. We realize why it’s important to be diplomatic with our international neighbors.

It is my hope that this Treatise will provide some tools for positive decision making as we continue to grow and move forward together. We are an amazing creature, but we cannot forget that we are, and will always be, subject to Nature’s Laws, and so are the civilizations we build around us. “So hot, my little sir?”

Frankie

Read the next installment of 21st Century Treatise: The Laws of Dichotomy and Balance


Acquired Strength

Against my back is the rough texture of oak tree bark,

I give it my entire attention, for it is here that I find my strength.

Fragile spine against a layered trunk of experience and trials,

I am inspired by it’s sturdy habits.

At times, strong winds bent it nearly to breaking, yet it remains upright;

Reminded of the forces that have threatened my own grounding,

I am reassured that I too will stand tall once more.

Long limbs reach down and like a crone’s overgrown nails

scratches the itch within my soul, their shadows hug me close to the earth.

Invisible cocoon that welcomes and nurtures,

I sit with my back against the rough texture of an oak tree,

and there acquire the strength to live.

 


Bird Wise

The sparrow picks away at some wiggly delight in the yard.  The young morning is sweet with new light.  Work, already.

The natural wont for us to be busy.  Eons old, the compulsion can not be stifled. Fend for a living.

When is man happier than when he provides for his family?  When is woman more confident than when pursuing her passion?  Innate career goals.

I took a moment, a long quiet nurturing moment, to watch the scrub jay sitting in happy calm upon a fence post.   I learned  much.

The winged territorial animal just IS.   He seemed content within himself and his circumstance.  I thought.

Awareness has its drawbacks.  The jay is unconscious of the abstract. Free from its weight.

I released the stress that greeted my day.  Instead I simply saw the present.   Minuscule part of an infinite whole.

I sit and hear a robin perched high in a confident cedar.  Her song is cheerful, seductive.  I am reminded.

It is important to listen, just watch and observe.  Thus I feed the well waters of my soul. I enjoy.

She has no care! she will survive today and that is all that matters.   She sings, not knowing that I am moved.   I have my own song.

I will sing it.

 

 

 

 


Moving On…

This…..

cayseenotes

I was finally able to take this down after having it taped to my kitchen/garage door for this past year and a half!  They are my notes from my newest release, “Caysee Rides, A Story of Freedom and Friendship,” a work spurred by my sister’s comment of “Do you know how hard it is to find teenage books with strong female characters?”

Caysee Rides is an adventurous tale of just such a young female who is stuck in an area where she has few choices as a fourteen year old orphan.  An escape to a more free area of the former US is planned at the same time Caysee meets an unlikely friend who has his own desire for liberty, and a history that makes Caysee’s orphan status seem mild.   The story blends modern technology, current political/social trends, and transgender issues for a read that is satisfying but challenges the reader to think as well.   Working on final editing and awaiting patiently for my talented book cover artist to render something spectacular.   I am officially aiming for an ebook release date of February 1st.    (By the way, I strongly suggest investing in a good cover artist. This is a place where an author can’t afford to pinch pennies.   I simply placed an ad on my local Craigslist, asking for samples of their work in a response.  This was a quick way to get a good feel for a person’s ability and talent, and I could weed through their work and find what suited my needs.  Follow your instincts!  And don’t make a final decision without a meeting or two.   In my very limited experience, I’ve found that giving them complete freedom over the book cover allows for more creativity than giving them some predisposed ideas.   Things can always be tweaked but I find its better to leave them with the ability to openly interpret the text and apply that to the cover without my influence.  I feel as if I get a more objective work that way.)

So what’s next?   Replacing the notes for “Caysee Rides” are notes for “Twenty First Century Treatise”  a nonfiction work that examines the impact of nature’s laws upon human civilization.  For example, nature always strives for balance and I demonstrate that our societal structures, bound as they are to nature’s laws, seek balance as well. Originally perceived as a book, I will be releasing this work one chapter at a time per month beginning in January….look for the Introduction as well as a first chapter with a provocative angle at economics in just a few weeks.   This work has been ‘percolating’ for some six years now, I look forward to sharing it; my hope, as always, is that I give us some talking points with which we can better our future.

Other things going on:  A winter solstice children’s book, aiming for release for next holiday season.   I’ve managed to get a great artist to team with me on this project, I know it will go places.  I also have another web site that gets regular posts from me, The Unseen Revolution.  It is solely dedicated to American economics and politics from the perspective of the Financialization Revolution.  I invite you to peruse the site here if those kinds of issues float yer boat, so to speak.   Annnnnd, finally, the beginnings of another full-fledged manuscript.   A teenage boy is forced to hide a crucial secret from his parents, discovery of it would tear his family apart, how does Brandon resolve the conflict?  Brandon’s Diary tackles modern social issues with an empathetic voice, stay tuned for its projected release date.

It’s quite satisfying ending the year at the same time as ending a project to which I’ve dedicated two years of my life.  It’s more satisfying to have fresh ideas to work with, new challenges to meet, and an entire year to meet them with.   Here’s to writing kids!  The road is long, the work is heartbreaking, the success is always worth it.    May 2016 greet you with new ideas and creative energy…

Yours,

Frankie

 

 

 

 


On Water, Wolves, and Wind : Civilized Compromise

Human civilization is often forced to compromise with mother nature, there isn’t much choice in the matter.

I live in northern California where water is a serious issue right now and salmon are exacerbating the problem. Shasta Dam is the cornerstone of the Trinity Dam Project that supplies power and water to much of the region, but it comes at a high price:  dams block centuries old salmon runs in the San Joaquin delta.  As a compromise, the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has long had water release rights to the Dam during spawning seasons in order to keep the runs viable. In years of severe drought however, releasing sacred water for ‘fish’ doesn’t seem like the brightest idea in the box and there have been some protests over the issue.

The issue of releasing wolves back into the Yellowstone Park environment caused a lot more protests, most from area farmers who were concerned about their livestock.  Wolves were hunted to near extinction early in the twentieth century to protect valuable farm animals. But that also meant that wild grazing animals were protected as well and before the century’s end bison and deer were overpopulated to the point of devastating the park.  Creeks and rivers were unable to form banks because the trees and shrubs required to do so were being eaten or trampled.  As a compromise, wolves were brought back to the Park to hunt grazing animals.  The grazer population returned to a more balanced number which in turn created healthier water banks and greenery.

Healthy air is the motivation behind wind turbines.   In an effort to reduce carbon emissions and take advantage of a morewind sustainable energy source, turbines are proving to be excellent generators of electricity.  But there’s a significant backlash to their presence:  people complain about wind turbines ruining the visual landscape of an area.  I can understand the argument to some degree, but we currently have miles of wire running through older neighborhoods with big wooden poles every hundred feet to keep them elevated so we are quite accustomed to a skyline full of man made objects.  In the long run, wind turbines save our planet and air quality. So even if they do take some enjoyment out of our horizon gazing, implementing wind energy is a compromise we must make as civilized human beings interested in keeping our atmosphere clean.

Each day I am amazed at the way we homo sapiens can manipulate nature and make it work for us. But in our advancement, in our quest to create a high-functioning society we managed to strangle nature at some very serious junctions. We’ve had to learn to give a little along the way as a matter of consequence.  That is as it should be.  We are the conscious party after all, we have a certain accountability to  other living beings on the planet.   So while water gets released during drought years, and the first wolves have recently made their way to California, and wind turbines continue to provide clean energy, we ourselves must make adjustments to our perceptions by understanding that the cost of civilization comes at the price of compromise with mother nature.

Yours,

Frankie


The Importance of Being Inspired

I attended an open mike session last week, a local event where writers and wanderers meet to share their works.  I hadn’t been to one in a over a year and as I sat and listened to a variety of people share their writs, I realized that I had been shorting myself.   Hearing the voices of others and watching their passion burn for the phrases they carefully constructed inspired me and challenged me.  Here is a perspective on love from a young just – twenty- ish man, there is a young woman wrestling with the conflict of how society tells her to act and dress, and what she knows to be true about herself.  An older man muses over a day in the life of a golf ball, a Mrs. Dalloway kind of narration.  The phrase ‘electrostatic syncopation’ is tossed out in the course of a monologue like a bean bag, it was a gem to me. A small opal that popped among the rocks, I wanted to pick it up and bring it home (apparently I did). I left the night refreshed and full of creative energy.  I thought about one of my mantras:  Creativity begets Creativity.  I became acutely aware of the Importance of Being Inspired.

bohemianartloft...

The Bohemian Art Loft

Redding, CA

Inspiration feeds the artist’s soul and without it we will starve.   We give out a lot you know.  Mr. E. Hemingway put it best when he described his take on being a writer, “There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Any artist can relate, we could well replace the verb ‘writing’ with ‘painting’ ‘sculpting’ ‘composing’ ‘playing’ ‘dancing’ ‘acting’ ad infin. We invest immense amounts of energy in our work and that energy must be replenished from somewhere and on a regular basis.  I made a promise to myself to attend more open mike nights as a means of replenishing my creative wells and keeping my writer’s mind inspired.

Because the Importance of Being Inspired has been foremost in my thoughts this past week, I noticed how often I tend to subconsciously replenish my soul with other creative forces.   Music of course.  Always there is music.  My morning shower and workout tracks are chosen for their ability to immediately quench my thirst for energy, get my neurons firing, and set off ideas to bounce around in my head the rest of the day.  A treasured painter friend will sometimes let us in on what he’s listening to as he delves out himself with each stroke of the brush or scrape of the pencil.

Nature constantly provides Inspiration for the artist’s soul.   Monet fixated on light as his inspiration and painted the same church from the same angle at different times of the day, recording its varying hues and tones, its changing mirage and shadows.  The result is a symphony of paintings that have gone on to do some hefty Inspiring themselves.   How many poems have the stars inspired?   How many similes have we managed to come up with for the movement of clouds across the sky?   Nature is infinite in its beauty, its nuances can be fleeting, a small shadow can make all the difference – we artists agonize over a way to capture them.  What right combinations of words can describe the way a river is lit by the sun?  What color mixture will I need to ensnare the way the sky looks after a summer storm?

monet's churches

Words inspire.  Great speeches have changed the course of history.   Beautiful novels remind us that resolution is always possible.   Poems etch out a new facet to an object or an idea.  Words challenge us to consider a thing.  They challenge us to make a decision.   They challenge our prejudices and our secrets – and whether we agree or not – we are stronger for the challenge.

The strength of an artist, I’ve come to learn, is in his ability to understand the Importance of Being Inspired.   We can not create something from nothing after all. Bleeding and starving, insomniatic and obsessed, agonized and tortured – we must nourish ourselves with the work of others and the work of nature – or we starve.  And the songs start to sound the same, the books end up with the same plot line, or the paintings become the same fruit bowls.

Here’s to Inspiration kids…may we seek it, may it find us, may we be more aware of it.  Who knows what creative wells we might discover?  Who knows what great works might be produced?  Who knows who we might Inspire ourselves?

Peace, Frankie


Sunrise story…….

Image

This beauty appeared a couple of days ago, when I see clouds on the horizon in the morning I know I’m in for some color and I was not disappointed.  I have a funny story about another gorgeous sunrise …. I work as a front desk clerk at a hotel and so my job in the morning is checking guests out.   One gentleman, big guy, booming voice, seventies-ish, mentioned the sunrise and that “Jesus must’ve gotten his paint brushes out this morning.”   Being an atheist, these  comments always put me in an awkward position….I must be respectful, but at the same time I don’t want to perpetuate theism…I have to come up with some way of stating the truth without  offending or condescending.   I chose silence at first, hoping we could move on somehow, but the question begged an answer and the six or seven people standing around all heard it and were awaiting my reply, probably a bit vexed at my silence.  He repeated the question again in some variant form and the best response I could come up with was, “Well, I’m a science kind of girl so when I see a sunrise like that I think of the clouds of water molecules that are reflecting the sun’s light off of them which gives them the colors we see.”   I didn’t include the fact that I also wonder incessantly at the idea that we, of all animals formed from the dust of the stars and living on this earth, can have the conscience to notice such beauty, and that I have this moment and this day to make my time count for something.   I think it would have been overload for him.  As it was, he coughed and muttered and shuffled away as I said in my
kindest voice, “Have a great day!”   We all breathed a few moments as the tension passed and then, to my delight and surprise, the woman behind him came up to check out and said to me in a low whisper “I’m with ya on the science thing.”

Have Peace Kids,

Frankie


My Favorite Earth-thing (or….A Note on Trees)

It’s Earth day (and later in the week Arbor day) so I’ll take a moment to acknowledge one of my favorite of Earth’s inventions:  Trees.   As corny as it seems, I have a deep love for trees.  They provide our homes, give us warmth, and allow us a reprieve from the sun.  But these wonderful inventions of Nature are much more than a utilitarian plant to me; they are my brothers and sisters.

My first experience with trees was climbing them as a child.  Right away I learned that they offer solace.  As a kid (the sixth in a family of seven) I remember scaling an aged elm tree at the side of our house and sitting high in its branches, the perfect escape from a noisy and busy house.  I reveled in the solitude and quiet.  I adored the altered perception of being up off of the ground.  It was a form of separation; taking me out of human interaction and transporting me to a world of birds and butterflies, cats and imaginary sloths, where I was always reminded that an entire macrocosm exists beyond the four walls of my home and it bears consideration.  Having the heightened perspective of sitting in tree branches also gave me the ability to understand, early on, the smallness of my existence.  I would watch cars traverse the freeway at the bottom of the hill our home occupied, thinking how small they were from the angle of my perch. Later on, when studying the vastness of the Universe, this important lesson gave me a strong foundation in the process of comprehending my insignificance within it.  I also considered that I was invisible to those cars, I didn’t exist to them, which gave me the opportunity to come to terms with the idea that the world does not revolve around me (dammit!).  I loved that elm tree; it housed me from the big scary world and taught me some crucial lessons about it as well.

As an adult, I don’t climb as many trees, but I still rely on them for escape. There is one tree in particular that I seek out.  It is an old, old oak tree, so old its branches hang down and brush my shoulders as I walk past them to the inner sanctuary of its trunk, which must be around four feet in diameter.  I sit in the small crook where tree meets earth and ponder life with the wisdom and experience of an adult, yet with the same sense of separation and differed perceptions I possessed as a child– open to whatever lessons I might be able to extract from my time meditating there.  Trees and I have a completely different relationship now though because I’ve learned more about them.

Nestled in the seam of tree and earth, I let my mind wander to the intimate nuances this tree and I share.   We breathe for one another.  That which I breathe out is exactly what the oak tree needs to breathe in, and vice versa – it’s a beautiful relationship.  I take a moment to note that this living thing has veins, and liquid running through them, just as surely as I do.   If I imagine hard enough, I can almost feel our ‘blood’ coursing together and I am reminded, as I was then, that I am as much a part of Nature as this tree that I lean against.  My small, fragile spine conforms to the straightness and strength of the tree’s spine and I am not in the least bored with the thought I’ve had a million times before:  that arms and legs and trunks exist which are different from mine yet eerily similar. No wonder Tolkien could envision Ents.

Spine to spine, I meditate and think. How many have sat at its trunk over the centuries of its life and found solace in its shadow?   How many have sought shelter under its leafy arms from the rain or sun?  What stories would it tell me of overcoming harsh winters and dry summers?   What wisdom would it offer me about the perception of time and trials?   What tales of affection would it tell of housing bird and squirrel families?  What would it say about his human form that comes to share its space and time?

“Welcome friend,” I imagine it would say, “sit and keep me company, tell me of your secrets,” – just like a true brother or sister would.

Be Well,

Frankie