A tree of life

‘The giant fig, which looks like a huge grove in the distance, is at least as old as man’s recorded history on this plain… the size of six ordinary figs, it is a tree of life.’ There are, Peter Matthiessen (The Tree Where Man Was Born) tells us, no other trees for miles around.

Whether baobab or fig or in other cultures banyan, in our own a great oak or weathered yew, these are the trees that define life in our world. Life takes no grander or literally more rooted form. All manner of creatures live in or under, we ourselves find shade and shelter under them, we may eat their seeds and fruit and only in madness would we cut them down.

We need more such trees and yet – they take hundreds and for some thousands of years to become what they are. We cannot accelerate time and create an arboreal world at will but we can resist our urge to wipe out time, to wipe out time past and replace with our own feeble and transitory wisdoms.

Go shelter under the great fig, as other creatures find shelter in its branches and sit in wonder and stall your thoughts of conquest of self or others or mastery of this or that skill or fad.

Under such trees man is not only born – he finds wisdom.

 

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