On Petting Trees

“Touching a tree is no different from touching any other living thing, in fact, even better. Why is it better? Because if you scratch a dog’s head, for example, you indeed feel something warm and vibrant, but beneath that there’s always a tremor of agitation. Perhaps dinnertime is coming soon, or not soon enough; perhaps he’s longing for you or just recalling a bad dream. Do you see? Dogs, like people, have too many thoughts, too many requirements. Neither dog nor man can attain peace and happiness by himself alone.
Trees are different. From the moment it sprouts until the day it dies, a tree stays fixed in the same spot. Its roots are nearer than anything else to the heart of the earth, and its crown is nearer to the sky. Sap courses through it from top to bottom, from bottom to top. It expands and contracts according to the daylight. It waits for rain, it waits for sun, it waits for one season and then another, it waits for death. Not one of the things that enable it to live depends on its will. It exists and that’s all. Now do you see why trees are so good to stroke? Because they stand so staunchly, because their breathing is so slow and so serene and so very deep.”
-susanna tamaro


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