The Age Of Trees
When I was young, I often slept on a wooden giant that had outgrown eternity in the garden of my grandparents. My grandmother told me she saw pictures of that tree, taken by her grandfather. They didn’t exist any more, burnt away in one of the world wars.
The wind and the twilight of summer nights, the rough surface of the bark, and being a dozen feet above ground made sleep seem the only state possible to exist in. So did the dreams I had inside the cocoon of leaves.
My mother let me be, although she barely hid her fear I could fall off that spartan rack (which never happened). Once every so often she would remind me when sleeping on this tree, I’d be taking its breath away. A biology teacher, she meant it literally but said it as if it would be an important proverb. Almost everything of a tree’s body comes from the air, and my mother believed it would instead absorb my dreams where I lay.
The old tree became my journal of dreams – unreadable even for me and ultimately secret. In those summer nights I built bridges that led me beyond my self. I discovered and rediscovered my senses and created an imaginative space-time continuum which was wider than its down-to-earth version, where I only ever found the remains of time beyond time. It was all but reverie.
Those dreams that enfold life times. The way you grow old without ageing. I still have these dreams that leave me feeling drained and moony for days. It’s like experience has taken away the lightness of stories that I once wanted to come true. Now they are buried in treescapes, and what’s left is knowing there is a different kind of finiteness to everything.
Growth, decay and resurrection in, so it seems, countless cycles are what has transformed trees into symbols for many things. The Cosmic Tree, the Tree Of Life. They could be omens, too, but that would mean creating a mysticism beside the point. Trees are silent witnesses to time, weather and, more often than not, to composers of artificial environments. To me, a disturbing beauty achieved through de-constructing nature.
Ancient trees, untouched by human hands, speak a language of their own – with a voice maybe audible only for those who listen, and see, with their souls. The solace that comes with an innocent, spiritual devotion to something that has been here long before me, and will still be here long after me.
Rooted in light and in darkness, trees are connected to the other side. The idea of immortality (Darren Aronofsky’s film The Fountain) is tempting and maybe the ultimate hope. Remembering my dreams, those nights, I believe that true beauty lies in the transience of all things, however short or long they last.
Trees grow and die as they breathe.