Last week Kip and I were on vacation in the Adirondacks where we had rented a small cabin next to a fork of the Moose River. Every morning I would get up early, make myself a mug of tea and take my journal down by the river bank to journal and watch the morning mist rise from the water. Most evenings Kip and I would see a beaver swimming up or down the river, and once we saw a mink scurrying along the bank.
During the day we hiked through forests along trails that led to sparkling blue lakes and, finding a log or boulder to sit on, would settle in to have our picnic lunch.
One of the most memorable moments for me, though, was a visit to a small stand of old growth forest, one of the few remaining areas of old growth that had escaped the clear cutting that had taken place throughout the region over a century and a half ago.
In this remaining pocket of old growth forest the energy was noticeably different from the areas that had been reforested. The moment I stepped onto the trail I could feel the presence of the trees that had stood there for hundreds of years—the serenity was palpable.
Standing next to one of those magnificent trees, I took my shoes off, feeling the soft earth beneath my feet, and leaned my back against the trunk. I closed my eyes and stood there for a long time.
Slowly I could feel my energy quieting and joining with the energy of the Tree. I listened and began to sense what it knew.
What I experienced was profound. I sensed within the Tree’s essence such a vastly different way of being than we humans are accustomed to. Standing there for hundreds of years, rooted in one place, I could sense the Tree’s—how to put this into words?—patience. I could feel how it had stood there year after year, decade after decade, century after century simply being itself, simply becoming itself.
Experiencing the energy of the Tree’s being and becoming, something that simply happened at its own pace, I was acutely aware of how often we humans live in an energy that is quite the opposite—dissatisfied with ourselves, impatient with the pace of our growth, discontented with the life we are living, or the place we have landed.
We chastise ourselves for our supposed inadequacy and strive to “improve” ourselves, as though the natural state of growth and becoming were somehow insufficient, as though we need to try to become what, in truth, we already are.
So often we live our lives in this fallacy that we have to make something of ourselves, make something of our lives, make something of our world. And when we dig down deep enough into the beliefs beneath it all we will find that it is based in fear, fear that we aren’t enough, fear that we can somehow fail at being what we are.
If I had to name this human tendency that plagues us with so much discontent, I would call it the not enough syndrome, and so much of the challenges and suffering we see in the world is its direct result.
But all of this was alien to the Tree. It was simply standing there, rooted deeply in the place where it had landed, allowing itself to grow into a greater and greater expression of what it already was.
If I had to come up with a word to describe what I was sensing from the Tree I would call it surrender. It lived in full surrender to what it was and to what it was becoming.
Surrender is something so many of us, especially in the West, misunderstand. We think that surrender is weakness, when in fact it is one of the most potent experiences we can have.
Why? Because when we surrender to what we are and to what wants to become in us and through us, paradoxically, we discover our power.
Ultimately we are no different from the Tree. We are encoded with the full expression of our Essence, and it is only our ego-based fear that keeps us from allowing it to come into full flower.
Now that I’m back home in the heart of the city I am carrying within me with the precious gift of the Tree’s wisdom. I am carrying in my cellular memory what it is to be Being being itself, Being becoming itself, Being that, through no effort of its own, expresses itself naturally in its innate, towering magnificence.