The Circle of Life

Posted on October 9, 2014 by Robert Ringer


Throughout much of my life, I paid little attention to the miracles that surrounded me. I was too busy thinking about business and money … too busy being annoyed by annoying people … too busy being too busy. I had no time to think about the realworld — the one that actually matters.

Nature and I were complete strangers, but things change in everyone’s life. Who would have thought that some of my best friends would end up being trees? I know that people often say a dog is man’s best friend — and I like dogs, so long as someone else feeds them, walks them, and … well … does all the rest of the stuff that goes along with having a dog as your best friend.

What I like about trees is that they take care of themselves. And, unlike dogs, they usually outlive you. My favorite trees are the seventy-five or so that jut out from the back left corner of my house at a 45-degree angle, like a perfectly drilled platoon. I visit my leafy pals — who shield me from the outside world — just about every day. In the slightest breeze, they whisper their secrets to me.

This past weekend, my trees were having a special evening. Their leaves were turning multi-shades of gold, brown, and reddish-purple. There was a bit of a chill in the air, and it was as though they were letting me know they were about to pack it in for the winter.

On this fine evening, Ravel’s “Bolero” felt right. I hadn’t played that CD for more than a year, but for some reason my hand pulled it off the shelf. As I watched my trees and listened to the music, I thought about my best friends — whispering to me through their fluttering leaves — with Ravel’s “Bolero” capturing their message symphonically.

They say that when the days grow shorter, the change of color is nature’s way of telling them to begin preparing for their long winter’s sleep. With less and less water and sunlight for photosynthesis to occur, the fall colors, previously hidden by the leaves’ green chlorophyll, come to the fore and have the opportunity to show off their beauty.

Soon, I thought to myself, most of the trees will be bare and their appearance will once again be somber. Happily, they are reborn every spring, live life to the fullest in the summer, enter the twilight of their lives in the fall … then, finally, seemingly die in the winter. But not really. In truth, they just hibernate. It’s more like recycling than death.

Death is but an illusion. And not just for trees in the winter. When a human being dies, he, too, is recycled. Not one atom of his body is lost. They are simply rearranged when the soul moves on. How are they rearranged? It’s not our job to figure that out. The Conscious Universal Power Source has it covered.

As I thought about all this, my mind drifted back to a scene from a classic film, Cool Hand Luke. Paul Newman’s character, Luke, had escaped from a prison chain gang earlier in the day, and a posse was closing in on him. He takes refuge in an old abandoned church and begins talking to God about what a hard case he’s been all his life.

Finally, he gets down on his knees and asks God what he should do. Just then, his fellow escapee, Dragline (George Kennedy), bursts in the side door and frantically warns him that the police are outside. Whereupon Luke, displaying that classic Newman grin, looks up at the ceiling and says, “Is that your answer, Old Man? You’re a hard case too, ain’t you?”

I’ve thought about that scene many times over the years, because the truth is that none of us has a clue about what the “Old Man” has in store for us, and it seems to me that it takes a great deal of arrogance to claim otherwise.

I often wonder if the world — and its buffet of insane events — is nothing more than a gigantic hoax nature has played on us. I’m talking about the world we spend most of our time focusing on — the world of television pundits who spew out the same clichés day after day … politicians who offer to give us more of our neighbor’s wealth if we will just agree to give them more power over our lives … multi-millionaire athletes who lead us to believe that their triumphs will somehow make our own puny lives more worthy and fulfilling … nonsense and illusions that must surely cause nature to smile at us condescendingly.

In my heart of hearts, I believe that what we normally think of as the real world isn’t real at all. It’s as though we’re children acting out a play on a spherical stage spinning around in space.

But the trees — and everything else we call “nature” — perhaps they know the answers to all the questions whirling around in our heads: How did we get here? Why are we here? Where are we going? The fact is that we just don’t know. Walt Whitman may have come up with an answer that transcends all others when he wrote, in his poem “Miracles,“To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle, every cubic inch of space is a miracle.”

If you’d like to ease the chains of daily life, I highly recommend that you start taking a closer look at the miracles that surround you — miracles that make up the real world — and spend less time thinking about the shallow, insane world that most of the human race mistakenly believes is real.

Robert Ringer

Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

26 responses to “The Circle of Life”

  1. Vanessa says:

    What a wonderfully insightful piece of writing Robert, your articles are a pleasure to read and I so look forward to receiving them.

  2. Jim Hallett says:

    I, too, enjoy the trees and other natural wonders – surely better than any of the garbage that fills the airwaves (that I do my best to avoid, though that is impossible). The physical world is much denser, and thus leads us to believe it is REAL,when in fact, the unseen is more powerful, and the real seat of power. One needs to embrace the quiet in order to encounter this power, and yet our society keeps shouting in our ears! I try to take multiple breaks of a minute or two each day to just be silent. It is most enjoyable when accompanied by the outdoor symphony of the trees or the ocean.

  3. Jeff says:

    Very good advice, and something of which we constantly need to be reminded.

  4. Avery Horton says:

    "COOL HAND LUKE" is the best movie ever made. More quotable lines than any other, IMHO.

    When the Captain is addressing the prisoners for the first time, he tells them, "… It's all up to you." That is a statement about life itself… IT'S ALL UP TO YOU!!

  5. burt dubin says:

    Well said, Robert, well said . . .

  6. David says:

    It's not arrogant at all to claim to know at least some of what God has in store of us. He let us know through His word, The Bible. That's not human arrogance Robert. It's God's love for us in that He chose to share.

  7. bullwink says:

    Robert , right as rain ,again ! the humans are mostly, vain ! myself and the handful that agree w/ you, insane ? the negative campaign , is on again…."methinks the lady protests to much"

  8. Thank you Robert. You always manage to put things into sensible perspective for me. Sadly, many who interpret The Bible ( often used as a self-serving tool to condemn others) brought me nothing but uncertainty, frustration and eventually despair. I listened, acted upon their teachings, changed my lifestyle and concluded: How dare these people presume to interfere in the lives of others? This is in my view, the arrogance.

    • UpliftedByHisSpirit says:

      This is a good article to put life into perspective. I was saddened to read your comment about how you see The Bible as a result of interpreters. Many such interpreters, as you said, have an unbelievable arrogance and feel they should tell you how, when, where, what you should do with your life. The correct interpretation of the Bible is to accept Christ as your Saviour and His Holy Spirit will guide you as you read and study the Bible for yourself. The Bible is an extremely personal Book and The Holy Spirit is your own personal Guide to reading it and applying it to your life as God would have you live it. The main thing to remember is that the Bible does not contradict itself as it seems to at times.

  9. Paradox says:

    What's it all about?

    'Tis all a chequerboard of nights and days
    Where Destiny with men for pieces plays
    Hither and thither moves and mates and slays
    Then one by one back in the closet lays"

    – Omar Khayyam

  10. Bill says:

    Selfishly, I ask, don't stop writing, Robert.

  11. Heather says:

    Dearest Robert –
    Nature is not condescending, I assure you. Nature has the purest of harmonic energy and simply exists for the joy of existing. No big plan, no larger purpose. Just to exist and thrive and be. Humans are not wired to think this way, embedded in us is the need to ask why, to take things apart and see how they work, to change and improve and tear down and dream and imagine and see the potential transformation in everything. Nature obliges by holding up a non-judgmental mirror to us – what we see staring back will tell us everything we need to know about ourselves. I appreciate your questions and introspection…looking forward to the next one.

  12. Jeanette Jordan says:

    Thank you! This was like a breath of fresh air.

  13. cspkeynes says:

    Robert: :

    Very astute observations……… I am usually at work on Saturdays and my routine includes listening to Ravel's Bolero.

    I would only add that many important things in life are usually within our grasp but sometimes we fail to move our hands.

  14. words2influence says:

    Nature is constant and that is how it is meant to be. What people mean by saying they want to change the world is just another way of expressing that they prefer the ideal constant and would work to re-establish that. Ask the environmentalists for one. What GOD has put together, let no man put asunder. The miracles are acts of nature rebalancing itself.

  15. Robby Bonfire says:

    Thanks, Robert, and perhaps consistent with your advocating getting back to the real world, I am buoyed every day of my life by the fact that five years ago I gave away my television set. Not many addition through subtraction enhancements can compete with a life-affirming decision like that.

  16. Raj Chakravorty says:

    Thank You Robert for a wonderful article.
    The advice you gave sounds a bit like the ancient Hindu philosophy of Vanaprastha which advocates that a man after completing his household responsibilities should give up his material desires and live with the trees (in the forest) as a hermit.

  17. Jim D says:

    <<… too busy being annoyed by annoying people … too busy being too busy. I had no time to think about the realworld — the one that actually matters.>>

    wonderful insight. And, as you remind us, the natural world is a constant reminder of something outside ourselves and our immediate, limited situation.

    It is great this time of year, esp. when the Fall colors are so stunning.

    Great reflection!

    • Phil says:

      At some point I remember reading in one of Robert's books the importance of taking time to answer your child's questions, which come so often at the most inopportune times. Sometimes I am so tired and in the middle of something when this happens that it is almost painful. But dropping everything and listening intently on what is going on with my daughter always makes me feel more in touch with what is really important. I know it has paid off for her as well. I think that this one passage has been worth more to me, and her, than all of the parenting books in the world. Just taking time to be present with her as she tries to figure out this insane world. I do not know if the best things in life are free or not, but the most important things, those of the most lasting value, cannot be judged on a monetary basis. They take effort, intentionality, and an awareness to free oneself from the nonsense that is increasingly a part of life.

      • Richard Lee Van says:

        "Intentionality"! That is a very full concept that we all need to "ponder on" more or more often. Yes!

  18. Bob Picha says:

    Robert, as always a calming bit of insight. Mother Nature is consistent with Marston's model of "Normal Human Behavior". Normal behavior seeks pleasantness and harmony. My strongest motivator is curiosity, yet the best advice I have received was from Charlie "Tremendous" Jones, who always seemed that he had the answer. This explained his sense of peace. People surrounding him wanted some of that peace of mind. They would repeatedly say "Charlie, we know you have the answer. What is it"? Charlie would always repond…."The answer is, there are no answers" What a profound concept to ponder. .

  19. american real says:

    Robert, can you tell us what the secrets are that the trees whispered? You got my curiosity going with that. Also, life it not an illusion — ask anyone who is suffering, anyone who has experienced or witnessed evil at the hands of others. We can only wish it was an illusion…

    The problem with pantheism and monism is that those worldviews ignore the very real existence of evil.

  20. Wes Hansen says:

    <<…none of us has a clue about what the “Old Man” has in store for us, and it seems to me that it takes a great deal of arrogance to claim otherwise.<< I have to say, Robert, that I enjoy and appreciate your view on most things. Your words here about religion are well said, honest, and true. You have common sense. I appreciate your words and hope you choose to continue your writing long as you can! The world needs more like you! :)

  21. Richard Lee Van Der says:

    When I was growing up, I remember the "hug a tree" fad. Nice! My favorite was oak.

  22. retlob1 says:

    Great piece Robert! Shallowness is the depth of despair…