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Between Us and Trees:
an anecdotal comparison with trees


Though I usually call the concrete jungle of New York City home, the current world has forced me out of the city. Here, I've been spending countless hours staring and marvelling at trees. They're such spectacular specimens. They grow from so tiny to so tall and grand. It’s sometimes hard to imagine that every tree in a mighty forest, once was a tiny and vulnerable sapling. But, with time, and a little bit of luck, each one grows and adapts to become a resilient adult that will one day spread more seeds for future wonders to sprout onto the world.

As humans, we too, are a spectacular species. We are born so tiny, and emotionally vulnerable. With time and experience, we grow to eventually develop a firm bark around our souls. A bark that protects our heart wood. Though we and trees develop defences to protect this inner self, it never goes away, and is always endangered.

From their birth as a seedling, our tree friends are constantly under assault and preyed upon by conscious and accidental foes alike. For trees these attackers can take the form of a violent storm that rips off a limb, a forest fire that consumes, or insects burrowing under their surface seeking to consume them from the inside out. In the early stages there are countless dangers that threaten survival. We too have sensitive parts that are constantly at risk. Our hearts are the target of those who seek to take advantage of our weaknesses, or maybe those close, who inadvertently destroy us at our core.

Though a scary and overwhelming prospect, we and our tree counterparts have evolved and adapted to protect ourselves. You see when a healthy tree is attacked or undergoes accidental damage they are equipped with the resources within their infrastructure and protective systems to compensate and heal. Where branches break or where wounds occur they can allocate an abundance of stored energy to grow new bark and seal themselves off from infection. As healthy humans, we too can fend off the constant damage that is a part of life. With coping mechanism and good life practices, when damage arises, we can heal over our vulnerable wounds.

But at times that is not enough. There are moments when a tree lacks the ability to protect themselves alone. For this, they have evolved to develop symbiotic relationships with other creatures to aid it in their survival.

For us as humans, this could be compared to a strong support system. When we alone lack the ability to protect ourselves or recover from damage, it's necessary to lean into the other creatures around us. Together we create a web that allows us to not only survive these traumatic experiences in life but thrive in them. With time, and a little bit of luck, each one of us can grow to become a resilient adult tree.