March 6, 2016
From Chichi – www.wedrew.org
Sharing Our Breath With Trees
A short essay on the fractality of our connection to trees.
In goes the oxygen to our lungs, absorbed by the branched shaped bronchioles; out goes the carbon dioxide, absorbed by the leaves on the branches of the trees; out goes the oxygen into our lungs. It is an exchange, a poetic symbiosis that emphasises our part in an intricate ecosystem so perfectly linked that even our lungs are a mirror image of the forests that give us breath.
We are linked to trees in an infinite loop of life, so when written it is inevitable to sound like a complete and utter tree hugger [a title I have been accused of on numerous occasions] so forgive me for the following fanaticism of our fellow inhabitant of this planet, I’m just stating facts – our lives are linked: they feed us with their fruits, roots and leaves, we feed them with what we digest; they give us shade; create our climate; the roots hold the ground steady for our feet to wonder safely; they absorb the rains so we don’t drown in floods; they are the home of the creatures that pollinate our food; and they house the birds that sing. There are few aspects of our lives that trees don’t play a part in, and all they need from us is to breathe – so is it any wonder people hug trees?
I once walked through a forest that when the breeze blew, an aroma wafted into my nostrils that was so delicious it made me want to inhale permanently inwards. I later found out that the tree that emitted the aroma was used by the indigenous peoples to clear the lungs of blockages. As well as healers, they are remarkably good teachers considering they don’t say a word. When I was little, there was an enormous tree near to where I lived in London.
That tree taught me how to climb, feel brave, be strong, to not fear heights, to rise to the challenge, to be calm and that panicking rarely helps resolve situations, and of course, to teach other little climbing comrades to do the same. It was an awesome old tree. My neighbour, who always defended the tree (that was on his doorstep) from the council who were threatening to cut it due to a ‘safety risk’, once told me it was the only beautiful thing left standing on the road when a bomb fell in the Second World War. It was where people mourned and left their flowers and tears for those they’d lost. When he died, the council cut the tree, and in doing so, disrespectfully cut a century long connection to the neighbourhood.
That tree didn’t just give us oxygen, it gave us links: to our childhood, to memories, to growth, and now that it was gone, the kids from the block would no longer have that tree to teach them as they grew, and that is a hole in their growth. Trees are the masters of showing us the fractals of our existence through creating connections, physically as well as emotionally, and sharing our breath embodies our symbiosis with them, our environment and this planet.