I wasn’t always this way, but the last portion of my life has involved tree hugging. Lots of tree hugging.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hug a tree as often as I’d like. In fact, I miss hugging trees more often than I actually hug them. Maybe it is high time I change that. In fact, there is a dogwood in the back yard that seems to need a hug.
The best part about hugging trees is that they always hug back. Always. Even when they are near the end of their life they find the strength to embrace whomever asks for a hug. They won’t question your need, or look at you strangely, or doubt your motivations. They’ll just accept, and give.
I love those wise, old bastards who just sit there, allowing. They grow in the direction nature pushes them. They’ll bend, and sometimes break, in the breeze; often issuing little testaments of gratitude in the rustling leaves or the splintered sounds of being broken wide open. They’ll sometimes fall to the ground and never try to get back up. Instead, they’ll hug the ground and understand that this place, too, is worth hugging.
I’ve never heard a tree try to pretend it is a man, or a deer, or some other being judged “better”. They never try to outdo their neighbors, or appear “prettier” in some state of meaningless competition. Oak tress don’t try to be pine trees. Pine trees don’t try to be birch trees. Trees are too busy being trees, too in love with being who they are to be anything else. They love their leaves, their branches, and their experience too much to be anything other than who they are. Everything about them is good enough.
Maybe that is why trees aren’t afraid to hug. You aren’t their competition, and they realize that you can always change your mind.
Trees are rooted firmly in the Earth even as they reach for the heavens. They adore the firmness of the ground even as they bask in the liberation of open air.
Trees love the sun and rain equally. Their dance remains the same regardless of the weather, as if to say “There is beauty even in the rainy days.” What’s not to love about such even temperedness?
Trees don’t complain about the change of seasons. Those who lose their leaves in autumn do so with a splendid display of loving beauty, never taking issue with the impermanence of it all. Even as those trees cry lovely tears of orange, and red, and mixtures in between, those tears lay perfectly upon the ground made hard by winter’s edge, softening that ground, making it a bit easier to tread.
Best of all you don’t even need arms to hug a tree. You simply need to walk among them and pay attention. Raise your level of awareness when in their home, and you will realize the reality of the truth you were born with. Sometimes the best hugs are offered in just being present, in receiving the presence of others while giving freely of yourself.
Trees do that. They will bask in your peaceful presence just as they will listen quite acceptingly to your lamentations. They will always accept what you bring to them, and they will always be giving of themselves if only you are open to accepting.
That’s why I’ve become a tree hugger in my later years. It feels good to hug a tree. They remind me of a place within me just like them. Peaceful. Stoic. Strong. Flexible. Accepting. I like being reminded of those things, even when the world is trying to cut me down for lumber.
Take a walk…and hug a tree. You will be glad you did.