Wisdom From A Sequoia

Learning from the seasons of a tree

Photo by Nils Rasmusson on Unsplash

I love a tree that shares the land with me, a giant sequoia. It is majestic, calming, powerful, steadfast, a solace and comfort to me. I touch it frequently, making contact with this incredible life form. I feel its roots that reach deeply into the earth, as I feel my own connection to this troubled, beautiful earth. 

This tree has a condition. Some type of issue that causes it to have dead brown leaves on it, more than usually are seen. The arborist and I are working together on it. Special treatments twice a year, and trying to give it enough water to quench and satisfy and sustain it. And standing near it, touching it, sending it love and gratitude. 

It’s August, the time we usually see brown leaves on our sequoias and redwoods here in California. I watch the leaves. I feel the stages of life, and of letting go. I worry each August, and each August the arborist reminds me that I contact them every year at this time with my concerns.

 So far this precious tree is doing ok. Its condition is not one that can be cured, but can be maintained. Pretty much like life, yes?

I seem to be at the stage in life where everything becomes a metaphor for something deeper, yet another life lesson. I am so grateful to be able to write about these. That is such a gift, to be able to put words to some of these lessons. For myself. Maybe also for some others who may resonate with some of my words. 

This tree lets go of many of its leaves/ needles every year this time. Each time I pray that we get through this and that we see growth again and more green again. 

I think about my own life and its stages. I shed layers as well. Layers that involve letting go of youth, of all that youth promises and seduces us with. Letting go of trying to meet the expectations of others. Time grows short so I don’t have enough time to worry about that as much as I have in my life. Letting go of the illusion of immortality. Having to accept, if not embrace, the reality of mortality. Letting go of the illusion that there is enough time to do it all, have it all, be it all. 

I shed these parts of me, albeit reluctantly at times. And I wait to see if there is growth that happens. Will there be new growth? 

When will be the time that this tree, and I, finally have to let go completely and return to the earth? When will an August be the final one? When will my breath be the final one? 

And so we carry on. We do what we can, arborists and doctors, and this tree and me. Until it is time.

Until then, I celebrate and enjoy this sacred being that shares life with me, that towers above me, gives me shade, brings me comfort and some peace. 

 I celebrate this life of mine. That fills me with emotions. All emotions, both happy and sad, bitter and sweet. All poignant. All part of me, of this life, of this gift of whatever time we have on this earth. Whatever time I may be blessed enough to have left. 

So I stand with this sacred being, this tree. We stand together, holding on, shedding what we need to, surviving and thriving where we can. Living and being who and what we are in this brief, precious, wonderful moment in time. 

12 thoughts on “Wisdom From A Sequoia

  1. Jo, your poignant descriptions of your giant sequoia tree and what it means to you bring bring tears to my eyes. I recall visiting the Sequoia National Forest many many years ago with my family when our two kids were very small. I still remember how amazed and enthralled we all were just standing in one place, quietly staring up 300 feet into the air and still seeing living branches of the General Sherman tree, as though they were somehow connected to the sky as one living organism. Now that I have ‘low vision’ and can’t drive anymore plus being age 80 kinda suggests that I’ve probably already seen my last Giant Sequoia up close and personal. Meanwhile I still have my computer, my 4K 27″ hi res display plus more VR (virtual reality) gear yet to come to try to simulate all the stuff that used to be a part of my physical world that you describe so eloquently. .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Steve, as always, for your heartfelt response. I’m grateful there are high tech ways to simulate past experiences and trigger those non simulated and very real, precious memories. The giant sequoia, as you can tell from your tears, is still so very much in your heart.

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  3. Yes, that is for me definitely one of the biggest challenges of aging! There are still parts of so many things I used to love and enjoy that are still there in reality, still teasing me, still tempting me to try to put back together into the whole they once were, but increasingly becoming beyond my reach. I feel fortunate to have been born with a strong mind, a great imagination and the technical and engineering knowhow to try to knit together my ad hoc virtual world to try and supplant what I once knew and did up close and personal. Like Madonna was a material girl, I’m like a virtual guy!

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  4. Sounds like there might be a sing to write…. Or a poem …. Virtual guy….
    So many losses with aging, yes? I’m glad you have the mind and skills to help ease that a bit, Steve.
    Writing about and naming some of the losses seems to help me a bit.
    It’s harder to grieve what I cannot name.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great suggestion, Jo! That fits perfectly with the Zen Buddhism Eightfold Path which has guided so much of my adult life. Zen brings all that stuff into clearer focus. enabling me to specifically identify and target, i.e., ‘name’ what is broken and in need of attention. I talk about that stuff on my crazy blog, https://boomerhangout.com

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Two sentences come to mind. 1) “That’s a big one, said the actress to the bishop”. 2) Using a Norfolk accent “You don’t get many o; those to the pound!”


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