Trees, Going Slow, and What’s Really Important

I have been pondering this post for some time. The usual interruptions have occurred, attention gets drawn away. Not today.

mapleWe have seen a real increase in clients coming in who are more depressed, anxious and unsettled than ever before. I personally blame it on technology and media. I recommend to each and every client to turn off their TV sets, just step away, there’s nothing but fear mongering and alarmist screeching and it’s affecting the masses negatively.

One way I help myself stay grounded amidst this maelstrom of negativity is to reflect and meditate on my favorite tree right outside my home office window. It’s a large, old Japanese Maple. Its bark is smooth, weathered, slightly twisted. It reminds me very much of an elephant. It is steady regardless of the changing political landscape, or the weather. It is not influenced by cellphones or texting. In fact it represents the antithesis of all of that. It’s the opposite of immediate gratification, it is the embodiment of going slow and staying the course. Its roots are deep, it has lost branches over time yet each year it buds, leafs and transitions again and again. My favorite time is fall when the leaves steadfastly turn a brilliant scarlet and the front rooms of our home are bathed in a rosy glow. And every year the beautiful leaves wither, fall, only to return once again.

As much as we perceive being in constant contact with one another as a positive, I rebel against this assumption. I see the negative effects of too-fast every day. Too much can go sideways in a moment, while the time it takes to digest and reflect is often dismissed as old fashioned and outdated.

With adolescents in sessions we often ponder the difference between Google and World Book Encyclopedia. One is instant, and undoubtedly has more updated and current information in it, but it also has misinformation equally readily available. The Encyclopedia had to be taken off the shelf, searched through, read and re-written by hand or typewriter. There was time to digest and reflect. Now students are so reliant on wikis that the reflection and digestion phase has been eliminated resulting in a lot of regurgitation and not much learning.

red carpetKind of like my tree. It takes time to turn leaves into dirt to be re-absorbed and feed itself year after year. There is art  and beauty to the slowness of the process. There is time to enjoy each stage of the process: the bright green buds, the whirligigs that fall that feed birds and squirrels, the deep green summer leaves that provide shelter to birds and that whisper in the breeze, the scarlet in fall that screams “look at me! look at me!”, the carpet of fallen leaves that the worms wiggle through and digest into more soil.

If going slow makes me old fashioned, and in so being I get to keep company with my Japanese Maple, then I’m happy to be here.

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