The Wisdom of Trees.
Hermann Hesse wrote, “When we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy.” “Hay un árbol que adoro.” I flirt with this specific tree on my daily walk as it towers above a farm just five minutes from the MEA campus.
There’s something formidable and feminine about how this tree supervises the crops. She’s nurturing and lyrical as this tree is filled with morning birdsong.
How many of you love Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings newsletter? She had a recent profile of Walt Whitman’s book “Specimen Days” and mused on what our silent friends, trees, teach us about being.
In his mid-fifties, Whitman used nature to heal himself after a paralyzing stroke. This book summarizes his jubilant journey standing at the foot of nature which became his midlife teacher. “Specimen Days” is the adoring apple Whitman placed on the desk of Nature, his teacher. The word “specimen” comes from the Latin root: “to look at.” Whitman’s poetry is evidence of how he became a “first-class noticer” (one of my favorite MEA terms) at a time when he was an invalid.
How could you become a first-class noticer when it comes to nature? We often think of people as role models, but what animate or inanimate objects in nature could be your role model? What qualities do you most admire?
I’ll let Whitman have the last words:
“Go and sit in a grove or woods, with one or more of those voiceless companions, and read the foregoing, and think. One lesson from affiliating a tree — perhaps the greatest moral lesson anyhow from earth, rocks, animals, is that same lesson of inherency, of what is, without the least regard to what the looker on (the critic) supposes or says, or whether he likes or dislikes. What worse — what more general malady pervades each and all of us, our literature, education, attitude toward each other, (even toward ourselves,) than a morbid trouble about seems, (generally temporarily seems too,) and no trouble at all, or hardly any, about the sane, slow-growing, perennial, real parts of character, books, friendship, marriage — humanity’s invisible foundations and hold-together? (As the all-basis, the nerve, the great-sympathetic, the plenum within humanity, giving stamp to everything, is necessarily invisible.)”