What if children were trees?

 

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What if children were trees?

 

A young man stood, looking out over his field, clutching a handful of seeds.

All the seeds were slightly different. Some were different shapes; some varied in their colour or size.

The young man held them all carefully in his hands.

As he planted his seeds, he took great care. He prepared the soil lovingly, placed the seeds in tenderly, and bedded them in gently. Then he left his seeds to grow.

In time, tiny green shoots gradually began to emerge from the soil. But not all at the same time.

Some shoots seemed desperate to emerge. They shot upwards within days, reaching ever higher, gaining momentum that seemed to accelerate them skyward.

Others came up slowly but surely, strong and steady.

The rest took their time to germinate. They developed more slowly from their seed, before eventually raising their tiny heads above the soil.

Each seedling grew at its own pace. For each seed contained a slightly different mix of genes, and had experienced slightly different conditions before it had been planted. And as each one grew, these inherited and environmental factors began to play out their effects.

Tiny seedlings began to develop into young plants. When the man came back, to look over his field, he saw a great many plants beginning to grow. Every seed had germinated. Every one had begun to take root in the soil. Each was beginning to grow in height, in strength, in complexity. Each was beginning to function as a young plant does, absorbing water and minerals from the soil and soaking up the sunshine that poured onto its leaves. Each was making its own glorious, sugary food to survive and grow.

The man looked at his plants, and he was pleased.

As he walked through his field of tiny trees, he began to notice a few things…

This one just here was bending over, as if reaching towards its neighbour, instead of reaching towards the sky…

That one over there had only 4 leaves on it, many fewer than all the others seemed to have…

This one over here was covered in tiny white spots, though it seemed not to mind a bit…

That one there was looking a little yellow, where all those around it were green…

One, a few yards away, was almost 2 feet taller than all the rest…

In fact, the more he looked, the more the old man began to realise that every one of them was different – just as the seeds had once been. Each sapling was growing in its own way, at its own pace, developing its own style, its own shape, its own colour. Straight stems, crooked stems; many branches, few branches; green leaves, yellow leaves; stretching tall stems, hovering low stems.

The man looked over his field of young trees and smiled.  His trees were growing perfectly. He was pleased with the beautiful variety he saw among them. They were doing exactly what their genes had programmed them to do: collecting their nutrients from the soil and the sunshine; radiating their life-giving oxygen into the air.

Each tree was growing perfectly.

In the following years, the trees grew more mature. At times the soil in some areas became depleted, and some leaves yellowed and withered. But those trees still grew. They found ways to spread their roots into the spaces left by others. They learned to dig deeper into the soil to reach layers that the other trees did not even know existed.

At times, the taller trees blocked the sunlight for the smaller trees. But the smaller trees still grew. Their branches grew longer and stronger, reaching out in different directions, seeking out the light in whatever spaces they could find. They grew leaves that were broader and flatter, in order to soak up more precious sunlight.

At times, the very tall trees swayed and bent over frighteningly in the strong wind. But they still grew. Their roots and trunks grew stronger and firmer, anchoring them securely to the spot. In fact, these tall, flexible trees fared better in the strongest winds, fewer branches snapping and falling.

The trees with only a few leaves, burst into blossom, blooming instead with beautiful vibrant flowers that brought brightness and colour to the young forest as they grew.

The trees with spots and gnarls and knobbles and strange colours, continued to look unusual. But they still grew. Their textures and their appearance provided perfect shelter for tiny insects, camouflaged and protected from their predators as they settled on the bark.

When the man next returned to visit his field, every one of his trees had grown. Some just a little, some a lot. Some upwards, some outwards. Some were beginning to knit their branches together with their neighbours, like fingers reaching out to hold hands. Others stood alone, proudly solitary. Each one was doing what it had to do, living its own life, in its own way, in its own time. The man was very pleased.

As the seasons passed, the trees continued to grow. Rains filled every root. Sunlight bathed every leaf. Warmth and cold provided every individual with nourishment, strength and resilience.

Every tree grew. Every tree changed.

Many of the slower growing trees now began to accelerate, as the others slowed down their growth. Discoloured leaves changed to vibrant greens as the rains brought precious minerals closer to their roots. Willowy, thin stems that seemed to bend and bough, grew thicker and firmer, steadying the branches, and providing space for the shorter trees to finally flourish. Many trunks retained their gnarls and their knobbly bits, and some trees grew in the most weird and wonderful shapes. But all were strong and healthy.

As the trees aged, so too did the man. When he finally returned, he stood in wonder.

What lay before him, was a forest. A lush, green, mature forest, filled with healthy, strong, beautiful trees. As he entered the forest, he looked around at the beauty.

Each tree had fully grown. Each tree looked different, unique and individual. Most were tall, but some were much taller still. Some spread their canopy wide, while others were very narrow. Some were clumped together in groups, some stood alone. Some had trunks that were smooth, others were covered with bumps and bruises. Some were dropping leaves, some dropping branches. Some had crows nesting high up in their tops, some had rabbits burrowing deep among their roots.

The old man knew that these trees were no longer his. These trees were very much their own. Strong, adult and independent.

As the old man walked through the forest he breathed in their air: sweet, life-giving oxygen, that every one of them produced.

He touched the wooded trunks as he passed, an endless array of textures: smooth, scratchy, silvery.

He looked at the ground before him, where every one of them was dropping seeds, all ready to be carried off to a new location, to begin the cycle again.

He stopped, and listened. Every tree was whispering, their leaves and branches filling the forest with the softest, sweetest symphony.

Each one of these trees was – quite simply – perfect.

They always had been, from the moment he had collected them as tiny seeds, through their young sapling lives, and into adulthood.

Each one had grown as it had meant to, at its own pace, behaving in its own way, learning how to thrive, and how to live alongside the others.

Smiling, the old man sat down under the trees, and closed his eyes.

© All rights reserved, monkeymum29.wordpress.com, 2015

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