In the aftershock of having let the likely distintegration of civilization as we know it as a result of abrupt and full blown climate change into my tender small psyche in late June, I sought some relief, some resolution to the psychological disorientation I was feeling.
As I often do, I determined I needed to talk to a wise tree. So I hiked up Bowman Trail in Millcreek Canyon near my house, to White Fir Pass. I’d never been up that particular trail, but had some inkling I’d find a wise tree or two somewhere up there.
And indeed, after a lovely walk up north-facing slope woods, I came to a shoulder where I found a west-facing view and several very large and stately fir trees, just off the trail a few yards. A rather big tree that split into two still rather big trees just a few feet above the bottom of its trunk called me, and I sat on the ground her base. I settled into my interior, and from here, reached out to this big ‘One Not Two’ tree. I was pretty sad.
I thought about climate change, about what scientists and mystics say is coming for us and our way of living on planet earth. Big changes. I felt my fear. I felt my grief. I felt my smallness. I also felt in a way that I was living out a part in some great unreal play . . .
I asked the Tree three questions.
1. “Will I see pain and suffering in my lifetime?”
The answer was quick, short, unequivocal. I then thought of course the answer would be 'yes.’ What human being does not see pain and suffering? I didn’t specify the pain and suffering as a result of the effects of abrupt climate change. I smiled. No matter. Pain and suffering. Right. Got it.
2. “Are humans destroying the planet?”
“Yes — but you are a part of it.”
This answer surprised me. The tone was kind; even loving, but firm. I had this strong sense that what the Tree meant was I am intrinsically part of the whole frigging crazy natural process. I am a life form that has evolved on the planet, and like all life forms (as my friend Vaughn says) we push our ecological niche until the niche pushes back. No big deal. My species destroys, and we create. I got the sense that the Tree actually didn’t see human beings as a selfish and greedy species that was wreaking havoc on all the other poor, innocent life forms of the planet. I and my seven billion fellow humans are as much a part of the process happening on earth as the tree was. We were all in it together, doing our thing. There was no ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ about the situation. The tree was not upset. I felt myself relax.
[Relax, but not abdicate responsibility. We are a self-reflective species and maybe should know what we're doing, but the point was the Tree wasn't making judgements.]
3. “Will I see the extinction of the human race in my lifetime?”
Again, an immediate and short reply. This answer could be taken in different ways. If the human race does become extinct in my lifetime, of course I won’t be around to see it. Or, the human race won’t actually become fully extinct in my lifetime. Either way, from my small perspective, it doesn’t really matter. I personally will become extinct, that’s for sure!! I relaxed again and decided to stop worrying about it.
After sitting for some time, I got up to leave. I realized that indeed I felt better. At least I had shared my fears with a Being I trusted who had a take on the matter that came from a bigger perspective than mine. Her words were direct and to the point, and filled with meaning that I received at some deeper feeling level.
I thanked the One Not Two Tree, and the other trees around, and started back down the mountainside.
It wasn’t until a few days later that I realized my conversation with the Tree had moved me forward, beyond despair. Our conversation had somehow helped me metabolize my fears and had permanently supported me taking bigger perspective, from which I now can live.