When I read Peter Wohleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees, I was blown away by the similarities in how trees in old growth forests nurture and the desires of modern human nurturers. Ancient trees in old growth forests are meant to live hundreds of years. In forests around the world trees are removed when dead, or cut down around 120 years old or less. Due to their slow growth nature, many species of trees don’t reach their adulthood until they are 120 years old. Cutting them down is like cutting down 18 year olds and saying. “Your old enough. We’ll put a baby in your place so it’s ethical. Thanks for what you put out there.”
A 18 year old hasn’t even begun to realize their potential in the nurturing eco system. They are still refining their neural connections.
In ancient forests the 200+ year-old trees help teach the new saplings how to thrive. They send a message of danger and how to repel it. They pass on their experiences of how to reach the light and retain moisture. Their leaves have built up compost that creates and nourishes an ecosystem of microorganisms that aid the tree in connecting with all the other trees nearby. When the trees die, their carcass decomposes to nourish the next generation. Often the new saplings will grow up out of the carcass. They have a community, a tribe to support thousands of trees over thousands of years. These forest have even been known to migrate to better environments to thrive better when an ecosystem changes.
Many of the trees we are around in our yards and parks or more like street kids. They’ve been left to figure out the world on their own. Their leaves scooped up, the soil compacted down, they have no connection with the other trees on the street or park. No information passed on how to survive pests, and weather patterns. They tough it out until they reach adulthood and are often cut down before that because they die out.
When we nurture others we need connections that are authentic and organic. Connections which we flow our knowledge and pass on our thrival skills. How do we grow that?
- Fertilize your connections by giving others agency. Allow choices and consequences. It starts with children as young as one year receiving a choice between socks or two shirts, two snack options, or two vegetable options. Do you give in and do all decisions for your child? What about spouse, siblings, co-workers, employees, clients, students,etc?
- Loose soil allows for the most growth and stronger connections. This means your allow space and time for those you nurture. Some need more attention and engagement than others.
- Get your sunlight first before giving away nutrients to others. Nurturers must take care of themselves first.
- Accept the lightning scars. Storms happen and parts of us break off or are torn away. Like trees we can seal up our wounds and continue reaching for the sun while our roots grow deeper and spread wider touching others and sharing our experiences that can help them to grow past their wounds.
- Connect with other species to ensure thrival. Trees extend their neural like connections by connecting with the fungal threads that spread in the lush forest soil and connect to other species of trees and wildlife. We need plants, pets, and even those microorganisms that gross us out to thrive as a diverse planet.
May you thrive as you reach your light and advocate ecology of nurturing throughout the world.