The Return of the Trees

Posted on May 23, 2014 by Robert Ringer

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Finally, the trees are back — my trees. The trees have once again shut off the outside world from my veranda. Almost makes me feel like a modern-day Thoreau, except he couldn’t see a golf course in the distance.

The global cooling of winter seems to have treated my trees well, and they appear anxious to enjoy the global warming of summer. As far as I can tell, only a few branches have failed to resuscitate their leaves, so I’m happy to report that I lost very few foliage friends over the winter.

Yesterday, in the early evening, my trees were in one of their talkative moods. You are aware that trees talk to you, are you not? Trust me, they do … and sometimes they do so in a whisper.

Trees tease and tantalize. They call out to you. And when a soft breeze blows, they can be downright sensuous. When my trees return every spring, it’s like reigniting an old love affair.

It’s hard to imagine how anyone can look at a tree and believe that the universe is nothing more than one big cosmological accident. I believe that such a thought reflects cognitive dissonance— i.e., a conflict between what we want to believe (that we are not subject to a Higher Power) and what we know, through common sense and intuition, to be true.

It’s quite interesting that trees have played such an important role in human spiritual history — the Persian Tree of Immortality … the Bodhi Tree (or Tree of Awakening) that shaded Buddha for forty-nine days as he achieved enlightenment … the Hebrew Tree of Knowledge that proved to be the downfall of Adam and Eve (and mankind?).

Twentieth century German poet, novelist, and Nobel Prize winner Hermann Hesse poetically described trees this way:

[Trees] are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. …

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life. …

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. …

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them.

But 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. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”

Would that I could have written this.

In a strong wind, my trees are apt to toss about in a frenzy. But yesterday, they swayed softly in a gentle, cool breeze — soft and soothing instead of frenzied and excited.

After all the wars have been fought, after all the governments have still not succeeded in totally enslaving the human race, after all the technological progress has failed to solve the world’s problems or prove that there is no God, nature will have its way. As in “Life After People,” when the human race is no longer here, the trees and their leafy relatives around the globe will swallow up every building, every bridge, every work of art … every trace of mankind.

And after a series of global warmings and global coolings, the earth will, like all other matter in the universe, end its life as a lonely ball of ice, spinning around a dying star. Then what? Perhaps, as some scientists have suggested, a quantum fluctuation will tear every atom in the universe apart, and everything — including the atoms of our own dusty remains — will reunite with the Conscious Universal Power Source.

But that’s another discussion for another day. Right now, there’s a tree not far from you. Take a good, long look at it — and be sure to listen carefully. What you see and hear will clear your mind and cleanse your soul in a way that will make you appreciate the fact that you are the only collection of atoms that can reflect on the world around you, as well as on the whole universe.

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.

19 responses to “The Return of the Trees”

  1. Eric Meurer says:

    If you liked this thought, with good reason; then read Robert Frost's, "Tree at my window" for another take on it.

    e

  2. greggsan says:

    Nice columns. Reminds me of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhsWKBx5t3A

  3. Scott theczech says:

    Amen. —used to express solemn ratification (as of an expression of faith) or hearty approval (as of an assertion)

  4. Scott says:

    My trees around my home have grown to such heights that they are causing "Line of sight" issues with my satellite dish.

  5. David says:

    Nice, Robert, nice!

    If I could be God for a day there would be a little less concrete and a lot more greenery.

  6. Gary Waltrip says:

    So the Great Turtle Man has a poetic soul! Lovely essay, Robert. I've read all your books, but still learn something new each time you write. Yes, I love trees too. The sound they make in the wind is called "white noise," and is similar to a babbling brook , rain on a roof, or surf crashing on a sandy beach. It is a very soothing sound that greatly enhances the power of meditation…and allows one to better connect with the Conscious Universal Power Source that you often mention.

  7. Julius says:

    Was it Robert Frost who has foretold us that when the last tree has been cut, the last river has dried and last fish been poisoned, its then that we shall realize that we actually can't eat money?

    • Dave says:

      "There are approximately 400 billion trees around the globe today. The estimate is assisted by data gathered by NASA.
      The number of trees across the planet equates to approximately 60 trees for every human being living on the planet. There actually are more trees on the planet at the beginning of 2014 than there were about 100 years earlier. A number of factors contribute to the increase in trees, including more concerted planting efforts and the migration of people from rural to urban areas. The United States is home to 8 percent of the planet's forests."

    • DOL says:

      DEAR JULIUS, DON'T YOU KNOW THAT WE FROM ANOTHER ERAALWAYS KNEW WE COULDN'T EAT MONEY – BUT WE ALSO KNEW WE COULDN'T EAT W/O IT, EITHER. MONEY IS ONLY A MEANS OF EXCHANGE.

    • Jean says:

      And Julius, as a fruit farmer, as long as trees provide money, there will always BE trees. You don't destroy the tree that feeds you (if you're smart, that is.)

  8. Jim Hallett says:

    I too love trees (could never live in the desert or barren plains where trees are non-existent or very sparse), and Nature always has more truth to reveal than ALL the talking heads on the iditot box, who think they are so smart. A hike in the forest IS one of life's great joys, and thanks for this reminder. Let's hope the developing-mad world doesn't destroy too many more of these wonderful things – trees!

  9. Dave says:

    I've always liked this poem –
    Trees – By Joyce Kilmer
    I think that I shall never see
    A poem lovely as a tree.

    A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
    Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

    A tree that looks at God all day,
    And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

    A tree that may in Summer wear
    A nest of robins in her hair;

    Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
    Who intimately lives with rain.

    Poems are made by fools like me,
    But only God can make a tree

    • DOL says:

      BEAUTIFUL, DAVE. I LOVE THAT POEM, TOO. I AM FROM DOUGLAS FIR COUNTRY. WE LIVE ON THE "HIGH DESERT"OF MY STATE AND HAVE IN OUR FRONT YARD TWO ENORMOUS ALBERTA SPRUCE THAT WE PLANTED AS 12-INCHERS. SOME YEARS MAGPIES LIVE (AND FIGHT!) IN THEM BUT THIS YEAR WE HAVE DOVES AND THEIR BABIES. SINGING ALL DAY. WHAT A BEAUTIFUL LIFE.

  10. Phil says:

    Great piece!

  11. Rick D'Amico says:

    I live in the desert, and I have trees. Trees that rustle in the breeze, trees that offer shade and cooling, trees that bare fruit, in my back yard! And, by the way, my trees don't lose their leaves in the winter, they offer me solace and comfort every day of the year.

  12. DOL says:

    WHEN I WAS A LITTLE GIRL WE MOVED FROM THE COAST TO ANOTHER PART OF THE COUNTRY (DESERT) WHERE THERE WERE NO TREES. ON THE WAY TO OUR NEW HOME, AND AS THE TREES GRADUALLY DISAPPEARED FROM THE LANDSCAPE, I GOT MORE AND MORE PANICKY. BY THE TIME WE REACHED OUR DESTINATION I WAS DOWNRIGHT SICK. FOR YEARS THE FAMILY WOULD QUOTE ME "BUT WHERE ARE THE TREES, MAMA, WHERE ARE THE TREES?" I ACTUALLY WENT INTO A DECLINE OVER IT. I HAD LIVED IN THEM "AT HOME" ON THE COAST. P.S. MY DEPRESSED SPIRIT LASTED FOR SEVERAL YEARS UNTIL WE MOVED AGAIN AND MY BELOVED TREES WERE AGAIN PART OF MY WORLD.

  13. edward says:

    Mr. RR,
    You seem to be convinced that global warming and global cooling exist. This question is not intended to challenge your superior intelligence because I think your a brilliant thinker. Can you provide me with any scientific proof that it exist? I can seem to see or find it any where. I’m 55 yrs old and as long as I can remember the weather has never changed. Thank you.

  14. Philosophizer says:

    My love of trees is so great that I must have been a Druid in a past life…Sad story here: I was looking at a property for sale that had the most beautiful huge willow tree. The lady next door decided she hates trees so much that she chopped down the willow in what was to be my yard! So when I go back to see the property, the tree was gone, and the beauty of the whole yard was destroyed.

    Turns out she is some hotshot in the city, and could hardly contain herself with joy when she had her chance to cut down a tree in her neighbors yard (my yard). She claims she doesn't like leaves blowing in her yard!

    Question: What kind of a person cuts down a tree in someone else's yard by convincing the bank to let her do it or she would sue them?