Trees, the Interconnectedness of All Things and the Power to Choose

I am currently emerging from one heck of a flu.  The shakes have gone, my head has pretty much stopped continuously rotating, and I can even more or less hear properly. All that’s left is a really annoying cough and phlegm in pretty 1970’s bathroom suite green … cos you really wanted to know that.  Oh yes and my memory’s completely gone.  Forgetting people’s names, faces, forgetting which section is which in my new meticulously organised but as yet unlabeled paperwork filing system … argh.  I feel like someone’s wiped my hard drive.  Thankfully I still remember my children, where the kitchen is and what it’s for, so I guess that covers the important things in life. Onward!

Yesterday morning I stopped the car opposite a park so that I could have a phone conversation.  In the summer the place would be buzzing with people, but in the cold of winter only one or two determined dog owners were to be seen, battling the blustering wind and hanging on to their leads for dear life as their pooches took them for a walk.  The playground lay empty.  I briefly flirted with the idea of having a few goes on the zip wire (yes, I have a bit of a mad streak) as for once I wouldn’t have to stand in line and wait with a bunch of 8 year olds whilst pretending I was just there to help my son, but then decided against it as my car was much warmer.

At this time of year all the trees are naked, and you can see their ‘bones’.  I like trees.  To me they represent how energy/matter is distributed in this existence.  If the trunk represents the whole, then each major branch would be a group of things, say celestial bodies, or all carbon based life, and then the smaller branches would be the divisions of those things, eg; plants, animals.  At some point you’d get to all the little twigs, leaves and flowers at the end, and each of those represent each individual instance of something, say a particular star or animal or human.  I know the analogy needs a little work, and it would have to be a gigantic tree, but it does really help you grasp the idea of ‘the interconnectedness of all things’.  We are all connected, not just every human being, but also every animal, every plant, every mountain, every star and every planet.  The connection comes from within – we are connected via our very essence, by the fact that we are all made of the same floaty frozen energetic ‘stuff’, bits of which migrate between us all with regularity, and thereby connected to the same trunk/source.  If this paragraph strikes a chord with you, wooohooo, I am not alone.  If it doesn’t, sorry, I just had the flu 😉

That wasn’t even what I was thinking about the trees yesterday though.  I was looking at their skeletons.  In front of me were three types of trees.  One type had knotted twisted branches that somehow still made their way outward and skyward, so that when clothed in leaves the tree would still have a classic tree shape.  Another type had fine delicate branches that seemed to have grown effortlessly. The outer branches of these trees swayed gently in the wind.  The third type of tree reminded me of my old school sports teacher.  Even then she looked about 80, yet her back was ramrod straight, and she held herself with pride.  The spines of these trees reached to the sky and the further branches seemed almost an afterthought.

‘I want to be the middle type of tree’ I thought to myself.  Why fight life and be all knotted and twisted inside? Or why be so obsessed with perfection that you don’t even have time for proper branches?  The middle trees were beautiful, elegant and effortless.  All the trees were growing in the same soil within meters of each other.  They all had the same conditions to work with.  Yet each grew differently, according to its nature.

Trees don’t have a choice – they just obey their genes and grow as they are designed to.  Animals are the same – granted they have a greater ability to discriminate, but at the end of the day they just obey their ‘programming’.   We humans are gifted with something no other animal has.  The ability to choose.

Many people just go with the flow, and let their conditions decide their life for them.  Many people waste that gift that elevates them from the other animals.  After all we have animal bodies and we too are awash in a sea of social conditioning.  So you can get through life hardly having to think for yourself at all, and many do.  Isn’t that a waste though?  We get to choose what we do with the conditions around us.  We get to choose what we do with what comes to us.  Do you really want to leave that choice to the herd?  I don’t.   I choose.  I choose to be the middle tree for a start, beautiful, relaxed, elegant, graceful.  And I choose to keep on choosing.  It may be harder work, and I’ll only have myself to blame if something goes wrong, but then on the other hand I’ll be able to take credit too when things go right!  And I know that I’ll be the creator of my own life … I wouldn’t have it any other way.

How about you?  Do you choose to choose? And if so which tree are you? And which would you be?

I think I may go on that zip line today…



Posted on February 24, 2012, in Inspiration and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Lovely post. The interconnectedness of which you speak is central to my worldview. I don’t think we live with this recognition all the time, but if we did we wouldn’t struggle nearly so much as we would recognise all conflict as essentially being at war with ourselves – and in case you’re wondering, No, I don’t have the flu ;). Choice is something I’m not sure about though. In a way I tend to see choice as an illusion. Were we really ever going to take that other option – based on who we are, our experiences and beliefs. etc. But then These can change, we can remember to see the tree that we really are and when we do we can stop acting like the one we thought we were – or something along those lines! JS

    • Thank you Dr James! Nicely put, and I agree, conflict is essentially being at war with ourselves. I think that’s a big part of the shift we’re making at the moment – to move from the idea that ‘we are the goodies, lets delete the baddies’ to realising that we’re all part of the same whole,and that everyone and everything has its own validity. At the risk of sounding dreadfully new age-y if anything needs fixing, then we need to turn it all to light, rather than delete it.

      As to your second point, are you a fatalist 😉
      Maybe the answer comes down to, as you’ve said, seeing the tree that you really are. Maybe if each of us can come back to our deepest power and essence we would make higher choices … now whether those choices would be predetermined …. I guess there’s always going to be an element of predeterminisim, but we’ve got huge scope within that. E.g. I can’t choose to suddenly become a silicon based life form but I do have a great deal of choice about what I do with my carbon based representation. I also think our choices widen as our grasp widens. As a basic example, if I don’t understand much about health or diet, then I’m going to choose things like burgers and chips all the time. Once I educate myself, my choices about what I put into my body widen … I might choose salads and wheatgrass juice and snack on goji berries!

      Perhaps as science moves away from extrapolation and into exploration some of us might end up having the ability to choose the physical form we represent as … after all energy and matter are interchangeable, if you know how. What if I could change myself into energy and then change back into a different form of matter? Maybe one day I *could* choose to represent as a silicon based life form …

      I’ll stop now … it might be the flu talking!!!

  2. Even the bible speaks of the tree of life, it’s fascinating how trees are adapted into our lives in so many ways. Christmas is another example of what the pine tree really stood for with the Romans.

  3. On choice, even though I’m doubtful that doesn’t mean that we don’t learn and develop so we do make healthier decisions. I know I certainly have made many changes like this over the years. Indeed once you really know the way that serves you, the way that works, it’s highly unlikely you’ll choose something else. I was just thinking the other day how difficult it is to not know something once we know it or have acquired the skill. Try not knowing how to write, or not knowing how to coordinate your limbs, or ride your bike. Not sure how I got to that – ah yes, choice. So not fatalism per se. But like the tree, the way it grows will change as it responds to the changes in its environment. Connected to this, I’ve always believed that we essentially do as best that we can in any given moment. There might be other options available, but if I’m not in the right frame of mind, if my learning has opened me to them, then the options only have hypothetical value. I sincerely wonder about this as I’ve often struggled to find a way to take what I believe to be the better path, but for one reason or another I’ll block myself from it.

    • Interesting idea that you can’t unlearn something once you’ve learn it … I guess that’s the nature of human progress. Learning is cumulative down generations and across communities and disciplines too – that’s how we get somewhere – otherwise we’d always be starting from zero. Imagine if some dreadful catastrophe happened that left all of humanity alive and healthy but completely bereft of all forms of technical and industrial development. Imagine we all suddenly found ourselves in the fields and caves again. It would take many years to rebuild what we have, and doubtless it would come out quite different- a bit parallel-universey – but it would also develop far far quicker than all the years it took to get there in the first place, because we already have the knowledge. Even as a world community you can’t unlearn what you know.

      Re: trees you point out that they change the way they grow based on the changes to their environment and how they’re programmed to react to those changes. I do believe that we have more choice than trees do. Are you saying that we too only have a range of choices based on our pre-programming and that our actions are therefore determined by that pre-programming and our environment? I do believe that we as humans can rise above that level of choice. Maybe the half-way house is to say that part of our pre-programming is to look for alternative choices outside of our immediate experience … maybe (like existence at large) we have chaos built in. That would satisfy both arguments. We could be pre-determined and yet free!

      As to your final point I do agree that our point of choice varies at any given moment based on how well we’re functioning. Isn’t that part of the human condition though? It would all be rather boring if we were able to mechanically accomplish anything just by virtue of having understood it. Instead we’ve got all this human stuff thrown in the mix – levels of health, levels of deterioration, emotional issues. Sometimes I think it actually goes the other way … I think we as humans have far more choice and far more capability than most of us are ever aware of … and the goal is to get to the point where you have no choice! As you have pointed out, once you know something you can’t unknow it. Once I know that just wandering into the road could get me killed, I don’t do that anymore. So that closes off a whole arena of choice for me. So the more I know, actually the fewer choices I have. Could there be a point where I have got myself to the peak of health and emotional IQ, and where I’ve learnt so much and I’m so fully intune with my energetic essence … that actually I no longer have any choices at all? I wonder what that would feel like? That idea might scare some people! I’m not sure if it’s something one human could do, because you’d die first! Maybe it’s more about the evolution of the human species … a sort of evolutionary goal. If it was a choice between keeping your human failings or being choiceless, what would you choose? I think I’d choice choiceless … I’m guessing it would feel good!!!

      I see from your email address you’re in Australia … Im in the UK and I should be asleep! I shall check back for any reply in the morning zzzzzzzzzzzzzz – R

  4. Great blog and a very interesting discussion with Dr. Stratford, so I thought I should contribute my 2 cents (yes, I’m in America!).
    I’ve heard these from other people so I can’t take any credit for these:
    1. What is the longest distance in the world? The distance between the heart and the mind.
    2. What is the difference between information and knowledge? When information affects your life and becomes a part of you, it becomes knowledge.
    So it seems to me that choice is the struggle between the mind and the heart. When they both agree we have no choice, when they don’t, we have to decide which one is right. And that, is the hardest thing to do!

    • Hey Khedouri! – Thank you and jump right in, the science is thickening nicely ….(??)

      I like your Point 2 re the difference between knowledge and information … knowledge must be held – it assumes that someone is doing the knowing. Nice.

      I’m not sure if the only choices available to us are differences of opinion between logic or emotion. Eg; shall I buy this printing paper because it is great quality? Or that one because it’s cheap? A purely logical choice. Shall I go out with this guy who makes me feel safe and secure, or that one who carries the scent of adventure and danger? An emotional choice.

      I agree though, when logic and emotion are at odds we have a problem on our hands! And we might think that logic is always right, but as we know that is not always the case! I remember reading a story about a para-glider who got into deep trouble in the air because of some freak air currents that threatened to collapse his canopy and send him plummeting to the ground. He tried everything he knew to no avail and had got to the point where he had to face the very real possibility that he might die or be seriously injured. He had about given up when he suddenly saw a hawk also caught in the same conditions. On a whim he copied the moves of the hawk to the best of his ability, and thus was able to land safely. A decision of the heart, where logic failed!
      It kind of is nice when logic and emotions do agree though, isn’t it!

  5. Phew!
    Ok, P1: interesting indeed, though collectively vast amounts of knowledge are lost over time. History is awash with the rising and falling of knowledge, especially technological, but also related to the arts, language etc..
    P2: I don’t really like to think of pre-programming or pre-determination in a strict sense at all. Even with the genome, we know that this is not a determination of what will be created, rather a set of possibilities like blueprints. Our ability to look beyond our experience, our conditions, and reflect on our actions, thoughts etc. does indeed seem to be an integral element of human, or at least advanced consciousness.
    P3: certainly we have far more capability than most of us ever experience – in this sense, as i’m sure you know, we have to unlearn the illusions that limit us. As far as choices might dwindle with knowledge – well maybe, but more likely is this that even more combinations open ups, new choices that is, and as our circumstances and environments change these it becomes necessary to find or develop new pathways, nuerologically, emotionally, you name it. Only in a fixed and very limited environment could this not happen.
    I should say I use the language of choice also, but this is something I think about. Maybe, the language I’m looking for relates to creativity and reorganisation, ie the ability to create new ways of being, thinking, acting – the creation of new choices perhaps. 😉 I assume you’ve looked at pictures of fractals?

    • Righty-oh …
      Point 1 – Yes, you’re absolutely right, I forgot to take into account the loss of knowledge … some lost irretrievably, some recorded as vague hints later to be rediscovered – think Mayan culture. I think we tend to keep what is perceived as relevant – and some oddities with no idea as to why we do them … for example did you know that the hairband/alice band is a relic of the old Judeo-Christian obligation for married women to cover their hair? It started as a full hair covering and got narrower and narrower till it was just a band. In the relatively recent past it then symbolised the fact that a woman was married and hence off limits. Bet not a lot of women know that when they choose it as a hairstyle!

      Point 2 – I think we vaguely agree. We are given a wide set of possibilities called forth by particular conditions, and also the capability of rising above the preconditioned stuff – that’s part of the human gift.

      Point 3 – Regarding unlearning our limiting illusions I can’t help wondering what put them there in the first place – coming from a purely scientific perspective. If everything is useful then they too were installed for a purpose…
      I see your illustration of infinite more and more fine possibilities using fractals as an example… very apt. So according to you possibilities, development and hence choice are never narrowed, in fact they increase – infinitely. Maybe you’re right. I have to give it some thought. But then what of the idea that there is only a finite amount of energy/matter in existence, that is just recycled. Can we allow for infinite possibilities with a finite amount of matter? Or maybe that presumption isn’t true. Maybe the zero-point field actually provides for infinite matter/energy?

      Point 4 – Creativity. Maybe THAT’S the human gift – you don’t see a bean plant or a dolphin being creative – at least not in a way that we recognise. But are we creating or just recombining? Or … in the case of truly brilliant ideas, are we in fact channeling from the widest source of everything … and so we come full circle!

      Well, that’s a little food for thought for you and me both this weekend 🙂

      Make it a good one!


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