My son Eli, was born on April 22, that’s Earth Day. For many years, I guess until he was old enough to rebel maybe, one of the things we would do to celebrate his birthday was to go out and pick up garbage and hug trees. Yes, we are actual tree huggers. And as we would hug the tree we would say, “Thank you tree.” Thank you for providing shade, and a place to climb. Thank you for making oxygen. Thank you for your roots that keep the ground from sliding away.
Eli and I would sometimes discuss the idea of reincarnation and talk about what we thought maybe we had been or what we would maybe come back as. I had always thought, and still do really, that to exist as a tree, one’s Spirit would need to be very well developed: to be born and grow and exist for your whole being in that one single place. You’d have to learn to accept your neighbors, it’s not like you’d be able to move away from them. You’d have to learn to weather the storm, to bend with the wind, or else be broken. You’d have to accept being a tree, it’s not like you could decide, at say a mid-life crisis, that you wanted to be a bush. Even now just writing about it is fascinating to me, the Spiritual level required to be a tree. And how about being a Redwood? Oh my god, standing in the same place for hundreds of years! Talk about the gurus of the forest.
Eli said to me once, long ago, “If I come back as a tree someday, I want to be standing next to you.”
But Eli is older now. We go to dinner for his birthday. Maybe have a cake. We don’t hug trees any more. Occasionally when I’m out by myself I may rub the bark of a tree, feel it’s roughness on my palm. But it’s not the fullness of wrapping my arms around the trunk and feeling the scratch against my cheek.