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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

In awe of the living things with which we share our planet

The President in Sequoia National Park courtesy of Nat Geo
Sequoia National Park by Nat Geo
Whenever I become too focused on my own concerns I like to remind myself there are other people that have concerns too.  I also like to refocus my attention to the amazing living things that share our planet with us.  Today I received the December 2012 issue of National Geographic.  On the front cover is a picture of The President: the giant sequoia that has lived in Sequoia National Park in California for the last 3,200 years.  When this tree was born there was no National Park and there was no official California.  Just the pristine land and the trees and all the living things that benefit from these magnificent giants existed at that time.  The President is not the largest tree on Earth; it is only the second largest.  It isn't as tall as the giant coastal redwoods in northern California or Eucalyptus regnans in Australia (highest reported tree was 375 feet tall and was felled in the late 19th century), but it is far more massive.  The President reaches for the sky at 247 feet tall, its four largest limbs are as big as large trees, and it has a thick crown that holds an estimated two billion leaves.  The only tree that has a trunk of greater bulk is that of The General Sherman; a tree that is also in Sequoia National Park.  (2012, December.  National Geographic, pg 28 - 41).  If you have never seen these magnificent trees I would urge you to make the trek to 7,000 feet where these trees thrive despite the rugged conditions in the Sierras.  Standing next to one of these giants is truly a spiritual experience and in doing so we realize that we are just passing through a world that belongs to them.  They are tough survivors that have seen so much in their long lives.  They are an ecosystem unto themselves and provide a home for so many of Earth's creatures both plant and animal . . . and insects too.  I have never felt so insignificant as the moment I stood next to The President and The General Sherman.  It was a lesson in humility for me and I have never forgotten that moment even though it was many years ago.  That moment of humility reinforced that those things that I believe to be important and urgent only belong to me and are ultimately of little consequence or importance to anyone else.

Eucalyptus regnans
So as I sit here sipping on a glass of Merlot that I poured from a box (yes, I drink boxed wine when no one is looking), I contemplate my own existence and the validity of my concerns that seem so trivial in the whole scheme of things in this world.  Don't you sometimes wonder what this is all about anyway?  We argue and battle against one another and countries go to war and those giant trees stand tall trivializing it all, because after all we will all be gone too soon and those trees will be our only witness that we ever existed in the first place.  There is a great deal of value in understanding our own mortality.  Our mortality reminds us of how few years we have on this earth and the importance of choosing our life path wisely.  Even though a chronic illness may threaten our quality of life, it is so important not to waste our time on trivial things that don't really matter much.  Doctors that diminish us to a diagnosis of depression don't deserve our time or emotional energy.  We must rise above their lack of knowledge and move forward with the understanding that we chose the wrong doctor to provide the care we need.  It depletes energy when effort is expended to educate people that choose not to be educated.  The rule of thumb when working to improve a process and influence people to join the effort is to spend time and emotional energy on those people that are "sitting on the fence".  Those people that are undecided are the people that may change their mind.  You can't hope to influence those people that have their heels dug deeply into the sand.  They will decide over time whether they will choose to remain stuck in the quagmire or if they will move forward.  When you are expending your precious energy on any effort, no matter what that may be, remember those giant trees that stand tall inspite of our trivial concerns.  Blessings to you on this Thanksgiving and every day as you choose your battles wisely and live your life to its fullest.  I know that I am truly blessed indeed!


Photos of Sequoia National Park at http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/12/sequoias/quammen-test

Photo of Eucalyptus regnans in Australia at http://www.humboldt.edu/redwoods/photos/eucalyptus.php
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