The Pine and I

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Photo Credit: Ana Simeon

Maybe it has happened to you, too, that small secret moment of intimacy with a non-human creature. It’s a powerful experience yet easily dismissed by the mind. The one I want to tell you about happened on a trail in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in northern California. It is a rocky, spare place, steep and windswept and intensely alive. High on a ridge above a mountain lake, the trail weaves among pines and Douglas Fir growing singly or in small groups, huddled around granite boulders. On a hot late September afternoon, their combined scent rose like incense; the air was charged with it. I walked briskly, enjoying the vigorous motion and the give of the trail surface, changing from rock to needles to bare earth to patches of coarse grasses. I became keenly aware of an added dimension, the arrangement of bodies in the middle distance, so often lost in our habitual focus on panoramic views. I mean by that the sense of my body mass relative to trees and boulders, the way trees stood in twos or threes or alone; a pine and boulder together; or the way the boughs formed a screen so that only slivers of blue were visible, and then suddenly parted to allow a full view of distant peaks. My steps slowed to a walk as I absorbed this new pleasure. My hand reached to touch the furry patch of lichen on a granite boulder, the deep furrow of Douglas Fir bark. I put my arms around a Jeffrey Pine, maybe my age in pine years, glowing deep red in the late afternoon light. I laid my cheek against the bark and was enveloped in a light, sweet aroma, like vanilla, very different from the more pungent “conifer” fragrance that rose from the forest as a whole. (I read later that pines, and especially Jeffrey Pines, are unique among North American conifers in distilling this vanilla-like scent.) There we stood for a long while, the pine and I, in a timeless embrace of arms and branches, skin and bark, one breath.

In her book, “The Legacy of Luna”, activist Julia Butterfly Hill describes her relationship with the giant redwood in whose canopy she lived for more than two years in order to save it from being logged. Hill is positive that Luna knew Hill was there to save it, and gave her support in its tree-ish way. Similarly, with my arms around the pine, I felt very strongly, from the tree, a wave of –  encouragement? Support? Was the pine hugging me back? These are human terms and they don’t quite fit. I felt that the pine and the land it sprang from were holding me up, wanted me to continue my work to save the Peace Valley in my home province of British Columbia from being dammed. I was being offered a gift – an experience of joy and unity, and something more: confirmation, confidence and strength to persevere in my work. Joy and gratitude buoyed me as I walked back to the cabin.

Looking back, a year and a half later, I see how this moment marked a turn in my work on the Peace River campaign. I felt invigorated, emboldened and supported. My health and energy improved and I was able to take on tasks that would have daunted me before. At the same time, I remained very much aware that the ultimate outcome is beyond my control. I was not “saving” the Peace – not by myself, not even all of us together. We cannot save anyone or anything. The Peace river has its own path. That path, like the path of other beings, may include wounding and suffering. All any of us can do is allow the land to become alive in us, and then act from that place.

In a culture less rigidly dualistic than the one that dominates our time, I believe experiences like this would be accepted by the society at large as valid and true. I feel gratitude that moments like these are still able to shine through the cultural conditioning that has been instilled in western peoples over generations, dividing nature from spirit and denying spirit to other creatures. What an impoverishment! Experiences like these bring incredible abundance and depth to our lives. They are our true birthright.

© Ana Simeon 2017

8 thoughts on “The Pine and I”

  1. “I was being offered a gift – an experience of joy and unity, and something more: confirmation, confidence and strength to persevere in my work.”

    I love hearing how WBF can support the life we live beyond our own challenges with emotional, physical or spiritual issues. We are also part of this larger living organism and our well being is linked not only to those around us but also the whole around us.

    Thank you for sharing this perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love Ana’s article, thank you, Ana! I just posted it on FB with my personal remarks urging all my friends to read it. And I love Diana’s comments about it.

    Ana, you wrote: “All any of us can do is allow the land to become alive in us, and then act from that place.” My goodness, so well put! “Allow the land to become alive in us.”

    I was afraid for many years to admit to these kinds of feelings in me, and with help from focusing friends, I lost that fear. I know now, clearly, that ‘something happens’ when I’m among the trees. I don’t need to explain it anymore. I just enjoy it. In fact: I rejoice in it.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. We are one with each other, one with nature, and one with the cosmos. Thank you for sharing your experience! Sharing our experiences of love and unity is part of what will help us to truly live in love, unity, and harmony with one another.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree, Bill – thank you!

      I see so much conflict in groups. Sharing “love and unity” builds a bigger space for “we”. Stronger, too. Then the “we” is able to move through conflict without fracturing.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The Pine and I connects me with that Life in me too! Ana Simeon concludes, “All any of us can do is allow the land to become alive in us, and then act from that place.”

    I immediately fell in love with this little story of The Pine and I and I wanted to tell Ana how much I love it and thank her. But I did something different. I just allowed the sense of this story to awaken me in me and what that experience in Ana gave me. I gave it time to work its way through me and inform me so much more by doing so. It had a lot more to tell me about being with that physical sense of self in relationship to life outside me and how that can nourish my own life.

    Ana has a wonderful gift of word connected to body experience that seems to awaken something in me that I can taste and feel with all my sense too. I was having a whole embodied experience shared with another, Ana, sharing her story so embodied in her own experience.

    Elizabeth’s experience in the forest did something similar for me too, and hence the connection between these stories of our experience in Nature. (Do you see them). What is that? What is it that has been awakened that we all desire when it happens? (Diana, My Heart’s Desire.)

    I almost have to go back to each of these moments of direct experience to recapture the essence of how that is for me right now. And I can. It reminds me of why I am here, my purpose of being here, my experience of just being, and then just being able to pause, slow down and saver the life out there that offers that to me so unconditionally! There seems to be something special about Nature just being itself, alive to itself. But also us, human reflective creatures, who can pause and appreciate their essence that reminds us of our own.

    Something seems to happen between us here shared in these stories when we speak this way, speak directly from the experience rather than about an experience. Mr. Deer and Me, and The Pine and I!

    Kevin McEvenue March 18, 2018

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Kevin! I’m very excited about all the different voices on this thread of “nature and I and we”. I feel this whole conversation opens up a big space for potentially a very big “we” … and has implications for rightful action in the world that flows from this energy in the “we”, and not from shoulds or shaming or self-righteousness.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “rightful action in the world that flows from this energy in the “we”, and not from shoulds or shaming or self-righteousness.”

    Wow. Having worked in so many groups with worthy causes, even groups of focusers, where personal triggers prevent the next right steps, I resonate with how grounding with the energetic forces outside ourselves helps us truly be part of the “we” that includes the trees, oceans, and all living creatures. The more this consciousness spreads, the easier it will be to do what is needed to heal the entire WE of which we all are part.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. OK, I can’t leave this collection of comments before I say this back, Diana, you wrote:
      “Having worked in so many groups with worthy causes, even groups of focusers, where personal triggers prevent the next right steps, I resonate with how grounding with the energetic forces outside ourselves helps us truly be part of the “we” that includes the trees, oceans, and all living creatures.”

      YES, grounding with the life that is outside of ourselves, I like to call it, “that which is beyond us” and I must add also’ that which is beyond us, and conscious, and benevolen’t….when we open our whole being to that, the ‘WE’ that we are seeking becomes SO MUCH BIGGER. I say, we are then noticing ‘the door open’ between me and THAT. YAY!

      with thanks to all of you commenting here,
      elizabeth

      Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s