I was going to write an article today about gratitude and receptivity (as part of my Law of Attraction series), but then I figured I’d do something a little different, just for fun.
I wrote a story about a tree.
“Oh, how exciting – a tree!” I can hear you all exclaim in wonder and fascination.
Yes, but this tree is different. This tree… but I get ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.
Lester Pine (“Les” to his friends) was born and raised in rural Alberta, among spruce and poplars and other pine trees, in a national park near the Rocky Mountains. Les lived near a hiking trail, so unlike other trees in Alberta, he had regular contact with humans.
As Les observed humans, he saw that they had many amazing abilities that he did not: to speak, and move around, and make decisions about what they would do with their lives. He began to feel discontent, and prayed for an answer.
One day, an angel came to him, on a quiet night with a full moon.
“Hello, Lester,” said the angel, sitting on a nearby leaf. “I understand you have a request?”
“Oh, yes, dear Angel, I do! I have noticed that humans are able to think and make plans, and decide what to do with their lives. It looks so fascinating! I want to have that ability – to think and grow like a human. I know I can’t just get up and walk around like a human – that would be silly! – but I would like to have more control over my life, as humans do.”
The angel sighed. “This is a strange request,” she said, “but perhaps you will learn something from it. Very well. Your wish is granted.” And with that, the angel blew a tablespoon of light onto the young pine, kissed him farewell, and flew off to handle a plane landing in the Hudson River.
Les felt a great power wash over him. He wiggled his branches. He felt his roots in the cool earth. He became even more aware of the intricate social networks in the forest. Full of wonder and gratitude, he went to sleep for the night.
The next morning, Les woke up to bright rays of sunlight warming his branches, and filling his needles with energy. But it felt different somehow. Then he remembered his conversation with the angel the night before, and a thought occurred to him: With great power, comes great responsibility.
Then he did something he had never done before: he carefully observed the amount of sunlight he was taking in. Then another thought occurred to him: the sun had helped him grow his whole life, and he had never paid the sun back!
He panicked. He knew he had nothing to offer the sun in return. He felt guilty. Then he did the only thing he could logically think of: he made a decision to limit the amount of photosynthesis he would allow in his needles until he could figure out a way of restoring balance to his debts. This gave him a sense of control. “This must be how humans do it,” he thought to himself. Then he felt good because he could do things that other trees couldn’t.
A week later, it rained. (It doesn’t rain much in Alberta.) As the earth soaked up the refreshing rain, Les could feel his roots absorbing a lot more moisture than they had in the past few weeks. The ground had been so dry, but now it was very wet. As his roots did their normal root thing, Les realized that he had new responsibilities to control his bodily functions, as humans do.
Yet another thought occurred to him: With water being so scarce, and the glaciers melting, and forest fire season just around the corner, the forest needed all the moisture it could get! What if his roots sucked up all the moisture and there wasn’t any left later on when he needed it more?
Aware of the scarcity of water, Les consciously chose to ration the amount he would take in that day, and the next day as well.
Unfortunately, within a couple days, all the other trees and plants in the neighborhood had absorbed whatever moisture still existed in the topsoil, and the rest had filtered down to the water table. Les was left a little thirsty.
“What greedy neighbors I have,” he thought. “They just go and take whatever they want, without any thought for me. And now, here I am, absolutely parched, with nothing left to drink!” A grudge settled into his trunk.
As the months went on, Les got used to his responsibilities. He did his best to control the water and sunlight he took in, and was grateful for what little he had. He tried to get other plants to follow his example, but they only laughed.
As summer warmth turned to autumn’s freak snow storms, the deciduous trees did their annual death routine, and went to sleep for the winter, while the coniferous trees settled down under the blankets of snow. Les tried to shake off the snow. It had never bothered him before, but it did now. He wished he could change Nature to the way it should be, but he could not. He suffered in silence.
Finally, Spring came around again, after what seemed like forever. And with Spring came new growth. It wasn’t long before Les started noticing roots from a nearby poplar almost racing through his territory. Naturally, he was appalled.
“Don’t worry about it,” a nearby relative told him. “Poplars mature faster than pines. It’s all part of the natural order of things. You’ll grow soon enough.”
But worry had become a close companion in the year since the angel’s visit. With his constant sense of indebtedness for the water and sunlight he had absorbed, and the competition with other trees for the earth they grew in, Les just couldn’t take it any more. He nearly snapped.
That night, he prayed again, this time for help in dealing with his poverty and constant stress.
And once more, the same angel came and sat down on the same leaf that she had appeared on a year before.
“Hello, Lester,” said the angel. “I understand you have a request?”
“Oh, yes, dear Angel, I do! I have had so much struggle in the year since we met. I have no idea how to deal with the guilt I feel about all the sunlight that has been given to me, and the inconsiderate neighbors, and now, others are growing faster than I am. I don’t know what to do! Can you please help me with my personal growth?”
The angel smiled. “It appears that this year of human thinking has had the effect I expected.”
“What do you mean?” asked Les.
“All the rest of Nature has no worry at all about the things you obsess over,” the Angel replied softly. “Your siblings all accept the gifts they are given each day, with no guilt, and no jealousy. Each day, they are taken care of. Life never worries about what it should do, only what it can do. It grows freely and fully, as its Creator intended. It never holds back, never holds a grudge, never keeps accounts.
“But since you have the ability to think like a human, you have forgotten your place in the divine order. You have forgotten that you may take in as much as you can, for it is freely given, just as your brothers do around you.
I’m afraid the only cure for your stress, dear Lester, is to give up your human insanity and go back to the peace of being a pine.”
Les thought about this for a moment (as only he could do). He considered the anxiety of the past year. He knew it would break him if he tried to keep it up.
“I accept,” he told the angel. “Please, grant me peace.”
The angel smiled even wider than her face (which only angels and fairies can do). “I’m glad we have learned from this year of suffering,” she said. “Very well. Your wish is granted.”
And with that, the angel blew a tablespoon of light onto the wise young pine, kissed him farewell, and flew off to share the story with a writer in Calgary.
Meanwhile, Les relaxed. Instead of trying to control his growth, he simply let it happen, as the rest of Nature did. He soaked up the sunshine and the rain, each in its turn, fully and gratefully. He danced in the wind, and rested peacefully under the snow. He didn’t have to control or change anything. He felt nothing but gratitude and joy.
And he lived happily ever after.
I loved your story Craig!!! Thanks for sharing that, it would make a great kid’s book. Since I love Trees, it really spoke to me.
Thank you, Astrid! Nice to know it connected with you. 🙂
Hey there Craig!
What a great story, keep writing … I love to read it! Your blog is inspiring 🙂
Thank you, Verena! How sweet!
Great story Craig. But I still don’t want to be a tree. Once you learn how to be a tree however, what an opportunity to share the knowledge with other people who don’t know how to be a tree or a cow or a bug; even if it is just for a moment at first…..
Thanks, Randy. I don’t want to be a tree either. 🙂 And I hope that I didn’t confuse readers too much. For example, there’s the water issue, which can be misinterpreted to mean that it’s okay to abuse natural resources. Really, I was trying to say that we receive so many gifts every day – like, a friend picking up the lunch tab – and often we don’t accept it because it seems too good to be true, or we feel guilty, or think we have to pay it back. I was just trying to say – take the rain and the sunshine – it’s all freely given. It’s okay to receive. And when you can’t change the weather, just let it be what it is and don’t worry!
I love that story too. I keep trying to remind myself of the truth it says as I get frustrated or worried about things (especially at school at this time of year). It’s good to have a well-written story to help me remember. In the meantime, I’ll try not to pine too hard for summer holidays! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
Thanks, Nora! Nice getting compliments from an English teacher! 🙂 And I guess holidays are just around the corner, aren’t they?
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