The Universe Tree-ing

This I know: life is a process.

Things arise and decay. Organisms grow, age, and die.

On a wander in sacred space, I was communing with the spirit of the forest, the spirit of growth, the Striving Green. I felt the pulse of life in the trees, in the undergrowth, in the insect communities beneath my feet. And I came upon, in my wandering, the standing body of an old tree, decaying in place, not yet succumbed to the forces of wind and water.

Leaning spruce
This is not him. This is an old spruce in my yard that, like many of his fellows, was done in by ice and wind.


I teared up for a moment. Oh, tree, even you who are so large and long-lived, even you must leave us.

I leaned upon (his) trunk, intending to mourn his passing, and was struck suddenly with the sensation of life! Oh!

This is not dead! It is just not a tree any longer. It’s alive with the pulse of decay, with the processes of mushrooming, and ant-ing, and bacteria-ing. And I came home with that surprise.

Yesterday, looking out upon my yard, contemplating my claim in my last podcast (“Everything in the universe is on its way to becoming something else.”) Thinking upon my object-as-information model that is key to navigating the socially constructed landscape… meditating on emptiness and form, impermanence and interconnectedness… and looking upon this birch whose days are numbered, and which threatens to fall upon our power lines and cause disruption in our lives…


It clicked.

 The tree is not in the form of tree. The form results from tree-ing.

Tree (birch tree, this birch tree) is in the pattern of energy that perpetuates the essence of tree-ness. When tree-ness is lost, it is not a passing from life into not-life… it is the passing from life into other-life.

I, attached to form, mourn the loss of tree-ness. Or cat-ness, or chicken-ness. Or (harder still) particular-human-ness. And hardest, maybe, the fact that someday my pattern, the patterns of my children, of everybody I hold dear will also fail… But not Life.

Life-Itself continues.