Whilst walking through Hyde Park one day, I came across a very peculiar sight.
There was a man engaged in a very passionate argument. He swore, he cursed, he turned a funny colour. But his opponent would not be moved by his entreaties. I can’t be sure what the disagreement was about but I knew what I was seeing. There was a man having an argument with a tree. And you know what? I think the tree won.
At first, I was confused. How could a man lose an argument to a tree? We have legs, we have mouths; we are the envy of the plant world! But does a tree need legs? Does it need a mouth? It has been said it’s better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt. I admit, I had no gauge on the tree’s IQ but the man wouldn’t be winning the Nobel Prize any time soon. After all, he was arguing with a Tree!
This got me thinking; we could learn a lot from trees. For instance, when we find the weights of the world bearing down on us, instead of fretting and fussing and other very mammalian things, we should just stand still, breathe, and take a moment out to think. Is this something I can remedy? Yes? Then I’ll remedy it. No? Then I’ll think of something else. Consider, how many trees do you see drowning their sorrows in the Union? Exactly.
Another example. Let’s say your sports club (or whatever) is going on tour but there are a limited number of places – someone couldn’t rig the ACC this year. So only the best (Insert sport here)-person gets to go. This is basic biology. When there is competition for a resource, what do trees do? They grow, and those that grow that extra metre up, or across, or wide are those that make it. You don’t need me to tell you that university is a fiercely competitive forest. Just by coming here, you’ve already beaten sone competition already. So the lesson here is to start photosynthesising like your life depends on it!
Furthermore, some trees even need that extreme pressure to survive. The seeds of the Giant Sequoia are only released from their pine cones in the intense heat of forest fires. Without the conflagrations, the seeds don’t germinate and… do sod all, basically. And people are just the same. Some write irritatingly good essays the night before the deadline after months of idle indolence.
But it’s not just their general philosophy that I admire. Just look at what Man and Tree have both contributed to society over the years. Trees have given us medicines like quinine and aspirin, wood for houses and guitars, fruit for food and clothing. I could go on. What has Man made? Fire, axes, chainsaws. As a species, we’re really quite aggressive. One of these days it’s going to get us into trouble. So it’s clear that trees have done much more for us that we have done for them. Rather decent of them.
But am I right in comparing humanity to trees? Are we compatible at all? We’ve all seen those tree-huggers, and while I admit their motives are admirably pure, those kinds of relationships don’t tend to last. So just keep your stamens to yourselves, boys, kay?
But I’m not just being speciest. Even with the most futuristic of medical innovations, you’ll be lucky to live past a hundred years. To a tree, that’s nothing. That’s tree puberty, when they start growing moss in places that didn’t grow moss before. Trees can grow for thousands of years – providing some passing human isn’t in need of a tooth-pick. In fact, it’s thought that the world’s oldest tree is more than six thousand years old. To put that in perspective, when the Egyptians first decided that pyramids were a pretty nifty shape, this tree was already going grey at the roots. So yes, as a rule, trees make Methuselah look like a mayfly.
My point is that trees can afford to take their time over things.
What is a little argument with a little man when you can remember the last time druids climbed your trunk? There’s no point in getting worked up when you can outlast almost anything else on the planet. Except fire. Run from fire.
But us humans can’t afford to take our time like that. Our time is short. Carpe Diem, and all that. If we sat and pondered for a decade over every little decision, society would grind to a halt.
So, in conclusion, it appears that while trees have a valid, even admirable, life philosophy, it is not one that man should seek to emulate. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to leave…