Thursday, March 1, 2012


Trees grow in the forest near Gryfino, Poland---cause unknown

(Unknown origin of photo)

These trees have learned to bend for some unknown reason. They have chosen not to topple over but to resist the force that prompted them to bend in the same direction and carry on growing upward.  And do you notice that they all have bent in the same direction? The "happiness" of one tree is linked to that of the other trees.

Trees have been on my mind lately especially since the latest storm hit our area. Our previous home was built in a bit of a clearing at the top of a knoll, yet still there were trees all around us and in the 38 years that we lived there, slowly B removed trees from around the house; partly to use as fuel in the wood stove and partly because every time there was a huge wind, rain, or snow storm trees would topple, not bend. I never slept during these storms, always listening for that first "snapping" sound that is the precursor to the falling. It was no different for me here the last couple of nights.

The master bedroom sits in a corner of the house that is surrounded by tall pine trees. I don't have much experience with pine tree behavior since we didn't have very many of them at our previous home. We had everything else: madrone, oak, cedar, fir----yet the pines were very distant and in a cluster on the knoll to our north. And they never fell as far as I remember unless they were diseased. Yet these trees that cluster here around the master bedroom make me worry. And worry to me equates to sleep loss.

The weather seems to be in the news again this week. Tornadoes, high winds, snow melt in some areas causing mud slides, snowfall in other areas causing ice. As hard as Meteorologists try they can never actually predict what the weather is really going to do. And so I placed a pillow over my ears to muffle the sounds of the high winds whipping in the tops of the pine trees and as soon as I did that, I could fall asleep. It took the sound away from that place in my mind that makes me worry and allowed me to relax. Sometimes what you don't know won't hurt you. And that is the tact that I took. I sounds a little like the ostrich burying its head in the sand but really, I think it allowed me to bend. I didn't have to be so rigid and frightened. Just go with the flow as the saying goes.

In reflecting about the destructive behavior of the weather I am tempted to want to control it in some way, like the swaying pine trees here at my home. Yet, I know it is beyond anything that I can do. I can't control circumstances or other people (which was recently pointed out to me by my new neighbor) but I can train my mind to see clearly. It is the premise behind what I have been reading with my book group: mindfulness.
Mindfulness gives us the tools we need to help us be truly present. It allows us to find the gratitude in others that touch us.

I find similarities in the behavior of trees and relationships. In "Awakening Joy" James Baraz says that "Relationships can bring us so much joy, yet can so easily occasion anger, disappointment, sorrow and unhappiness. But as we've seen throughout this course, what is happening inside us is far more important than what is happening "our there". The trees that most of the year shade our house, provide protection for birds, and sway gently in the breeze can sometimes sway violently in the wind, drop branches on the ground, and sometimes fall because they could not bend. I am trying, at this point in my life, to learn to bend and to " with our [my] pain and sorrow when things don't go our [my] way or people disappoint us [me]."

And this from the Dalai Lama:  "It is important to understand how much your own happiness is linked to that of others. There is no individual happiness totally independent of others."


  1. wow those are crazy trees...neat....a tornado took out the line of houses behind my sisters house yesterday in indiana...close call...yeah its really crazy about the weather this year...hopefully not a sign of things to come...

  2. One of the ongoing lessons of my life -- that I am not alone, and that my presence matters.

    Not sure what's going on with those trees, but there's a spot in Montana doing the same thing -- only the trees all tilt differently. It's hard to stand among them. One feels off-kilter...


  3. I love this photo. It is amazing how they "learned" to adapt, to compensate and carry on.

  4. cool trees in that forest in Poland - wonder why!?!?

    we have lots of pine trees up here and they're not the ones to come crashing down ... it's the fast growing trees like alders that haven't much of a root system.

    you can keep the branches thinned of dead parts and that allows the wind to move through them better ... or the wind will do that work for you and you'll find branches on the ground after a wind storm

  5. I think a lot of stress and anxiety that human's experience is due in part because of the "what if's" and future thinking their mind processes. It takes a lot of work to "turn the switch off" in that part of the brain. I'm not sure any human being can actually completely do that. Maybe humans in general would be far happier and calmer beings if we all knew how to turn off that switch, or, better yet, never turn it on in the first place.

  6. Those trees have a story to tell! I love storms but make sure there isn't amything close to the house that could damage it when one arrives. That way I can enjoy listening to a storm raging and feel moderately safe. I think I'm lucky that I accept that Nature will have her way regardless of any worry on my part, all I can do is minimise the effect.

  7. What curious trees those are :)

    They say that people who can bend are more resilient.