I like trees. Actually, I love trees. They have been a constant theme in my life. Their influence being strong enough to make me move to another continent live in a city I would have never considered and study their role in our lives. An odd thought. As much as I have appreciated their role in shaping my life path it wasn’t until recently when I grasped how strong my connection to them was.
I had to spend a night in the hospital not too long ago. (Don’t worry about it.) After some time in the main A & E, I was moved to another room and another bed situated next to a window. I looked out into a courtyard, lit up with the light pouring out of the multiple floors of the building. It was the wee hours of the mourning. And I could hear what sounded like wind rushing through the branches of trees. But from where I lay, there were no trees visible. My man nurse Dominic was standing there asking me various medical questions, which I was forced to interrupt with my own question. “That noise I hear. Is it a wave machine or is it the sound of wind outside?” Dominic, probably thinking I was worse off than I was, responded that it was probably just the sound of wind rushing into the ventilation. “Oh, ok. Just checking.” I lay there unconvinced. I tried to get some sleep. It was a restless night.
The hours ticked by, I would wake up regularly, looking out the window to see if anything had changed. Nothing had changed. It was frustrating. I was hoping for some sign of something, but I didn’t know what. The building remained the same upon every glance. After an hour of tossing and turning it suddenly dawned on me what I desired. I wanted to see a tree. I needed to see a tree. The sound of wind (or wave machine) was unnerving me. It needed explanation and a tree could do that.
There was a running joke in our house in Oregon that Bella, the dog and Piccadilly, the cat, were neighborhood watch. Both of them often had their heads perched to look out the front windows. Gazing out on all that was happening on the streets. But just as much as they were looking out, I was looking out the window as well. It was a whole house of neighborhood watchers. More than looking for bad people, I think I was looking out to see the state of nature. Was it rainy, foggy, sunny, snowy? Are there clouds rolling in from the West? I can help myself. It is difficult to go a couple minutes without looking out a nearby window.
So as I lay there in a hospital bed, with the sky beginning to get some light in it, I know what I wanted. I wanted to see a tree. I wanted a connection with nature. I needed to know that everything in nature was all right. That even though I wasn’t in too hot of shape, that the rest of the world was ok. My mind and spirit pined for connection with the earth. It was weird to actualize this feeling into a thought.
It was depressing laying there knowing that I couldn’t do anything about it. By this time it was obvious that there was a wave machine being playing, but it did not give any calming effects like it was supposed to. I don’t know what Dominic was playing coy with me.
A couple hours later, they let me go. I stepped out into the sunlight a bit dazed and confused, but doing all right. There were some trees, which stood happily outside the entrance of the hospital, leafless, basking in the warm glow of the rare sunshine on a winter day. I was happy to see them. And equally happy to be taking a shower and changing clothes soon.
Although I probably have a heightened awareness of the importance of trees in our lives, I don’t think my experience was unique. Wanting to connect with nature is an integral part to being human. Whether we want to recognize it as that or not. We are of the environment, not separate. I always feel my best after a walk or bike ride in a forest. Like I’ve re-centered myself. Really, that’s probably not too far off from the truth. It’s getting back to the rhythm of life. Oh and also it has been proven that seeing trees while in hospital can have huge benefits for people.
So I think we need to be aware of the power of trees or just the environment in our life. It can have healing powers beyond what we can comprehend, and you don’t need to be sick to benefit from it. We can really benefit by bringing more nature into our lives. Further more nature is something to be respected, protected and shared. And not just those trees in England or the US. Those here on Earth who live in places derelict of trees need our help. They too should be able to reap the benefits of trees we take for granted here in the Western world.
So let me get back to my main point: I could never be an astronaut. How could I ever be away from trees for months and months? Knowing that I could barely stand 8 hours away from trees in a moment of duress, I do believe I would fail at being an Astronaut. I’d probably end up jumping ship. That wouldn’t go over too well. I need the connection to trees, if merely the sight of them through a window, to get me through the day. Just like everyone one else does.
Those of you who want to help plant trees check out the following organizations: