How Trees Make Us Human

How Trees Make Us Human

Tired – Empty – Unfocused. I needed a vacation!

So, I dug out my walking shoes, booked my travel and off I went. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was about to experience “my tree pilgrimage”.

I aimed to hike mountain trails, sight see and to quote a friend ‘take a gazillion pictures”!

I planned to spend my days exploring landscapes, glorious views and expected tired feet. All of which, I did. It turns out the forest had more for me. What I didn’t expect was how immersing myself into relationship with the land reawakened the primal vastness and boundlessness within me.

What I received, was a renewal of a way of thinking; of being, something not easy to explain. But let me try. This state of mind opened slowly. Each day, something rooted deeper in me, coming into clarity.

It started with a visit to the coastal redwoods; the tallest trees on the planet. As I stepped over the parking lot threshold into the forest, I took a deep breath in and gasp at the beauty before me.

Quietly, one by one, I greeted these ancient beings with a gentle touch. Their silence was powerful. Wandering amongst their trunks, I look up, cranking my neck to see up to their top branches. To get a better view, I lay down on my back amongst their roots to take in the full extent of their height. I stare up at the grandeur of a Grandmother tree. The child in me is cared for as I nestle in the cradle of the forest floor.

Their breath all around me. I take in their gift of life, close my eyes and breath out my half of the partnership. We enjoy being in each other’s presence.

On another day, approaching the largest tree in the world, a 2000-year-old giant sequoia I consider, what wisdom will she share with me. In my head, I hear the words, “I am your beacon”, repeatedly, slowly, hypnotically to become a low hum vibrating within me. I sit at the side of the path, looking up at her, unaware of time passing. I notice the smaller trees in front of my giant elder. She is teaching these younger trees how to be a forest.

She models the way to Be.

The word “universal” pops into my head, then “time is made”. I don’t quite understand. I have so much to learn. When I leave her to rejoin my friends, I know all is well as we have this primordial mentor watching over us.

As our group moves among the forest, we share our songs and whisper our stories. By the end of my trip, I feel aliveness buzzing in me. I am content.

My impressions begin to shape into something I can articulate.

Being – are all alive

Possibilities – are always there

Witness to real power – petty struggles slip away

Hope and warmth – creation renews itself

Safe. Alive. Here. Simplicity. Grateful.

The shift in thinking had arrived.

My vacation now over, I have been reminded of fundamental lessons.

  • Knowing that I create my rushing through life, I can un-create this dynamic
  • I know that I flourish when I’m able to hear myself think
  • My body is a complex instrument that needs to interact with nature each day to stay healthy and functioning. I need to feel and sense my surroundings in my body to know who I am
  • To know who I am gives me joy, wellbeing, resilience and more

My tree pilgrimage replenished me. The deep well of who I am inside is full again. The forest’s nature is to give and receive, in equal measure, always in balance. It is a partnership. This intimate relationship is vital to all beings.

I will model the way of the trees, after all, there is a part of them in me that makes me human.

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About the author


Siobhan is a Certified Forest Therapy Guide and Organizational Coach trained in Co-Active and Organizational & Relationship Systems coaching helps urban professionals impact climate change by crafting sustainable lifestyles, communities and businesses through a deeper relationship with nature.