Intelligent Trees

I rented a movie last night – a documentary called Intelligent Trees. Did you know that trees actually prefer to grow slowly in groups rather than quickly alone? And not homogeneous groups. Rather, groups of varied species together like birches with elms and firs. We often put them in a position of growing alone when we plant them in our yards willing them to grow fast so we can enjoy some shade, but their preference is to be in mixed groups and grow together slowly because that’s what’s better for the tribe. They actually share their own nutrients through these amazing neural networks – far more entwined and intuitive than just a root system – so that their tribe grows strong together. They know they’re stronger together.

Researchers call the oldest, most mature of each clan the Mother Trees. Always the mothers, yes? The mothers teaching the importance of tribe, of sharing the best of themselves to enable the most viable growth, of pulling the others along to be stronger.

I think we’re smart like trees. Sometimes we think we’re planted alone and that the goal is to grow as fast as possible and shine the brightest. And sometimes we want to root ourselves in groups of our own kind, for fear we are too different or our nutrients not the same. But when we remember that we too have this incredible network of connection between and among us – far deeper than the neighbors we can see and well beyond the reaches of social media – we thrive.

This is where my kids would be saying, “OK Mom, we get it!”, but for my own learning I’m driving it closer to home.

Let’s seek connection – in our worries, fears, despair, hopes; in our shared pasts and futures; in the knowns and unknowns about each other. Let’s really believe in connection and see where it takes us.

Let’s seek to make ‘other’ part of our tribe. Whatever other is for you – what you judge, what you feel you already know or know nothing about, whom you fear, whom you despise or dismiss, whom you’ve never met. Seek other out – read, watch, meet. Listen, both intuitively and in actual hearing.  And hold the highest vision of the other while you learn who they are at their core.

Let’s seek to share the best of ourselves – our material resources, our time and attention, our love, our wisdom, our faith in each other. Our voices. Our protection. We are so intimately connected and thus only as strong as the most vulnerable, the most angry and hurt. Let’s help each other grow. Slowly and together.

We are always, always stronger together.


2 Comments on “Intelligent Trees

  1. Hey Ms. Ellen, Love, love, love it!!! I can so believe it, all of it! I love the idea that they like growing in tribes. Isn’t it always about connecting and the connections we make . . . even with trees. Hugs! Chere


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Regina Leffers McCaleb, Ph.D.

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