I am writing this post in the midst of printing out a hard copy of my entire blog post collection as far back as when I started blogging for TOI almost two years ago. And as I watch paper after paper fly out of the printer, I try not to think about the fact that this paper came from some innocent tree, somewhere.
I comfort myself in the excuse that paper trees grow quickly and they are planted for this purpose alone. Someone once told me that. Never verified if it’s true or not.
I don’t have any plants in my home.
I am just no good at keeping them alive. Mind you, I do own three beautiful, lush and green plants that I keep on the counter in my kitchen. The catch is that they are not real. They are as plastic as plastic can be. And to tell you the truth, they look real and lush simply because they require minimal care and attention (brush some dust off every two weeks).
I think I once owned a tree, plant or bush of some sort only to realize that all greenery requires watering or it will die.
And die it did.
I killed all of the cute little pieces of shrubbery that my kids brought home from school within a matter of days. I just left it to die on the window sill, hoping that someone besides me would look after it. But no one does, because unlike a dog that will eat your ankle if you don’t feed it or poop on your floor if you don’t take it out, a plant sits quietly and awaits its fate.
I love flowers but I feel hypocritical buying them and putting them on my dining room table when I know full well that I will forget to change the water in a couple of days and, like all plants before them, they will die.
But I love trees.
I love sitting under a beautiful and overflowing tree, basking in its shade while leaning against its trunk.
Trees are there as a constant reminder to us of our humanity, our fragility and of our temporary presence on this earth. There are trees that have lived longer than you or I and will continue to be around even once we are gone. True altruism is the planting and nurturing of trees that one will never even benefit from personally simply because of the desire to give the gift of a tree to future generations.
There are landscapes ridden with war and despair and yet the trees that were planted there often remain as witnesses to a time gone by, to love, and war and the overwhelming sequence of events that as humans we call life.
Trees resemble humanity: some yielding roots that are planted firmly in the ground, some with rotten roots and others with strong and deeply embedded ones in the soil. There are trees that give off sweetness, nourishment, shade and air and others that poison the ground that they have been planted on.
There are trees that grow in the direction of the sun, absorbing whatever brightness and energy they can whereas there are others (palm trees) that grow straight up, tall and proud, regardless of where the sun may shine.
We must protect our trees.
Nurture them because their presence in this world is invaluable to us and to future generations.
They give us life and we must respect that gift and give to them in return.
Just please, not in my house.