What Trees Taught Me During my Birthday Hike
It feels like I say this every year, but this year has been extremely hard. I try to make myself feel special every birthday and this year was no different. This year I went to Wekiva State Park and enjoyed the beauty of nature. While there I decided to go on a hike to revel in the wonders. It was there that the land, water and especially the trees spoke to me.
There were many trees in the park (it is a park after all), but the ones that caught my attention the most were the damaged ones. These damaged trees begin to tell me a story about life and how we should all live in it. These trees spoke of life, death, struggle, survival, deterioration and regeneration.
Some trees take a long time to grow. It may be at least 20 years before you can begin to see the potential in the little seed you planted. The young trees are pliable, moldable… easily influenced. But, they are also weak. They can be easily disposed of by stepping on, plucking up, or any force of nature. As time goes on and the roots grow deeper the tree begins to show itself. The older trees are grand, and they become more majestic as they age. They begin to protect, strengthen and nourish the surrounding areas. This of course happens to us as well! We are full of energy and are easily moldable at a young age. But, we can also be easily influenced in the wrong direction at this time. We begin to see the world differently as we grow. We begin to hold steadfast to our beliefs and traditions. That doesn’t make us special though. We become majestic the more we become authentically us. The more I can be me in the face of adversity, in the face of differing opinions, the stronger and more majestic I become. We remember the people who stood for right when everyone else is wrong. That should be the goal for us all.
However, things happen to every living thing. Life is never only easy for one and hard for another. We all have our own burdens to carry. There was this tree that showed the struggle. Life had beaten it up and you could see the scars. It was beautiful! The challenges that this tree faced weighed it down, but it continued to survive. It continued to grow under dire circumstances and adjust. This reminded me that I am who I am because of the struggles that I have faced. My beauty lies in the scars and imperfections that make me…me. No one leaves without facing struggle and being affected by it. That impact changes us, let’s make it change us for the better.
There were trees that had died. There was no life left in the tree that we could see, but there was life around it. Even though there was no life left, there was life engulfing it. The tree’s body became food for other plants, a home for animals and it continued to hold the earth even in death. It reminded me that even though my family, friends and even I too will die, the memory will live on. We all leave a mark on this planet. We leave marks on the people we encounter, on the values that we place on our loved ones, in the very DNA of the Earth. Even if we never have children of our own, our existence will impact the future because of our intertwined interaction in it. Our descendants will rise and flourish because of the nutrients we have. We should be mindful to leave positive nutrients and remember that good and bad affect us all.
The impact that you have may seem small or trivial, but it makes a huge difference to the people who you interact with. A simple smile can make a person’s day. A hello can change a mood. All small, but impactful. If you can change a stranger, think about the effect that you have on people who know and love you. We may only have a limited time here, but our impact can live forever.