When was the last time you touched a tree? I see them often, I walk past them, I benefit from their biology every day, but I rarely touch them. They are no longer an inescapable element of our daily mechanized, plastic lives. Perhaps we wanted it that way: the inception of brick and steel and drywall and kerosene and electricity allowed us to downgrade trees from tool and fuel to mere ornamentation. We protect trees now, in reservations and city blocks and forest preserves, but we’ve stopped touching them.
To touch a tree is to touch history. It’s to touch an impossibly, intricately beautiful creation that doesn’t need a plug in a wall for power. It’s to touch the wisdom of years we were born long after and will die soon before. The tree has seen the world and has seen you. The world will continue on without us, but not without the tree.
The tree doesn’t need our touch for validation or survival. It doesn’t need us at all. And that’s why you should touch a tree. Touch them soon and touch them often. Touch them before they figure out everything they do for us and decide they’ve given enough. Soak in by osmosis their total lack of regard for our lives and thank God everyday they think that way, because no one else is telling us how our mountains are really molehills and how we get our daily air.
Give them this day their daily breath, God tells the trees, but let’s see if they ever figure it out.
What is the meaning of life? Touch a tree and see.