We're a little crazy, about science!

No tree survives alone in the forest

From season 2 of The OA

Humans are odd creatures. We have weird quarks that make us want to organize the world in ways that make no sense. In this case I’m talking about trees. We have this thing about planting trees in straight lines. I think it’s because it adds a touch of order to something so organic and wild. Being the tiny insignificant things we really are, we cling to that order as a little reminder that we are something special. We don’t often acknowledge the idea that plants are living and intelligent things because they act so differently than things we prescribe intelligence. Put bluntly, the things that act like us. In reality, from what we can tell, trees talk to each other (more) and they know that there is strength in family because the truth is, a tree falls alone.

Planting trees in nicely organized rows is one of the weirdest things to me. It’s not how trees grew, it’s not what they know, and they suffer because we decided this is how they have to be. Trees are community creatures, they grow and support each other, literally. In the forest trees fall very rarely when compared to our tree rows because they can lean on each other and offer support to one another. Not figuratively, I really mean that. From our understanding, trees offer each other food (more)(also more). Plants are smarter than we give them credit for, it’s just a different kind of intelligence, one we don’t really understand. Some trees can be hundreds (if not thousands) of years old. I like to think that after all that life they know a little something we don’t, even if that’s just me being a silly sack of meat.

To survive all that time, trees need to be flexible adaptable creatures. Something I envy because despite my best efforts I too still find comfort in the bits of organization in all that chaos the world brings. So many of us get up, go to work, do the same job day in and day out. I think a lot of that has to do with organization. There’s comfort in knowing that your shitty, underpaid job will still be the same shitty, underpaid job that it was yesterday with only minor variations in the cast of characters you interact with that day. In a lot of ways we are like trees, we root ourselves in our existence and from an outside perspective, once you’ve matured far enough, very rarely does one year look significantly different than the rest.

When we do uproot our lives, it’s a painful, hard process. Something that takes a lot of time and effort. So in a lot of ways we aren’t all that different from trees, the only real difference is that we can uproot ourselves. Moreover, we grow in our communities. We have friends and family that we can lean on and survive the storms together. We form a canopy of protection and help those close to us. Because if the canopy is broken the weather and pestilence flood in. The entire group is affected when one person in the community is in trouble. It’s why we grow together and form our bonds.

Unfortunately not everyone is lucky like that. Some of us get planted in rows and there’s not a whole lot we can do about it except learn to adapt to life without the support that you need. I guess I’m just tired. I’ve lacked a support system my entire life and if I had one I’m afraid I would have no idea how to even use it. I’m not even sure what one would look like. I’m just so used to not being able to lean on anyone I don’t know that I would be able to anymore. It’s a life that makes for one lonely tree human.

As I mentioned yesterday (here), life is changing… again. It’s made me reflect on a lot of things and the realization that I don’t actually have that support system most people get born into. Of course my brain related it to trees, because why wouldn’t it? Well it related it to trees and then somehow tied it back to The OA (a show which I absolutely love, but was cancelled, stupid netflix). But I sort of feel bad for rows of trees, never getting to be with family or making friends. It’s a very solitary life and you may wonder why don’t I go out and make friends and family, but it’s not the same. I was just planted in a row instead of a forest. Just like a row tree, I can still interact with the world, I can still communicate with those around me, but it’s not the same rich environment that most people get born into.

There’s just a lot going on right now. As usual around here talking about it helps me plan and make no mistake I am planning. I’m trying to bring some small order to all the chaos, because it’s what we do as humans. We plant rows of trees because it makes us feel better about our place in the world. We don’t honestly know what plants think, or feel, or if they can even really do either of those things the way we understand it. To be fair we can never ACTUALLY know what another person is thinking or feeling, we can only inaccurately relay those using words, which is, at best, a crude representation of our true thoughts and feelings. So maybe we’re just slightly more clueless about the world than we want to believe.

Row trees have to weather the storm alone. They are forced to be strong enough to do it, or they fall. While I don’t doubt that I will survive this storm, as I have all the others, I still am tired of being forced to be that strong all the time. I’m alone and I can do it alone, I know I can. That’s not the problem. For today at least I am grieving, but just a little.

I miss the forest I never had.


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