Forest for the trees. And vice versa.

Trees that grow in a biosphere, under those huge sheltered glass domes, are unchallenged by the wind. They fall when they grow to a certain height, because, without the challenge of the wind, the tree never develops the breadth, depth and networking of its root system. It doesn’t develop the strong woody core in its main trunk that can support the weight of it’s branches.

The tree, when it starts off as a sapling, is slender, has very few branches and leaves and is busy shooting upwards. It starts off close to the ground, where it is sheltered from strong winds and challenges. As it gets stronger, the challenges it faces are also stronger. And without the graded increase in those challenges during it’s younger days, it will topple with the first large cyclone.

Providence, in general, tends to offer challenges commensurate with the capacity of the tree or plant in question. If you think of Providence as nature, if you use the word “Nature” instead of “Providence”, you’ll realise that the tree is selected. Nature doesn’t “care” for the individual tree. The challenges keep coming. It is up to the tree to figure out how to survive. The ones that survive grow stronger with each challenge. The ones that die, die suddenly or die gradually as they get weaker with each challenge.

A sapling that is too close to the parent tree will suffocate as it grows. One that falls too far away, might not survive the elements, drought or floods.

Trees need each other to grow. They network their roots. They give each other space in the canopy. They are in dialog above and below the ground. The dialog may not be what we are used to, as humans, but they’re definitely talking. The dialog if fruitful, will result in survival and literal fruits. The networked roots underground will pass on nutrients to the network. They will pass information to neighbouring networked trees. They will send out plant pheromones into the ground water and air, that inform other trees of pests, disease and stress due to water shortage or heat. They will send out signals telling each other that the seasons are changing. Trees will negotiate for space in the canopy. The negotiation may be friendly, hostile or just plain bullying. We don’t know yet. Trees operate on a different timescale compared to humans. Remember the Ents of Tolkien.

Groups of people are like forests. They need each other. They need to network, negotiate and co-operate to keep disease, pests and the desert at bay.

Each tree in that forest has a role to play. A lone tree standing in the Savannah, makes for a dramatic picture, but it will not live long.

Where are your roots? How deep are they? What is it anchored to? How networked are they? What sort of negotiation are you involved in? Can you sense the change coming in the air? Who are you sheltering? Where is your next generation? Are you preparing them for adversity? Is their exposure to the winds of change controlled enough to strengthen them, or will it be so sudden that they will bend and break?
How much deadwood is your forest carrying? Are you prepared for the forest fire that will sweep across the landscape when lightning strikes unpredictably?

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