i wrote a short story about trees and had my canadian penpal Emma Murdock illustrate it.
back then, trees were the people
at least, that’s who trees thought of when they heard the word “people,” they thought of other trees. and trees ruled the world, so whatever they thought was all that really mattered.
they were just so much bigger and stronger than everyone else. they could go wherever, eat whoever, and do whatever they wanted.
so they did, for the most part. they’d step on an ant just to get that much taller, snatch a fish out of a river for a shiny piece of jewelry. fight each other for a moment’s glory, unaware of the many lives destroyed underfoot.
back then, they didn’t bear any fruit or nuts, no sap or pine cones. anything falling from a tree that could be of use to anyone was purely coincidental.
eventually and inevitably though, trees started to wonder whether they had things wrong: was it not a logical backbend to say that they alone deserved the mantle of “people?” so then what of the other living things who suffered from a tree’s actions? and also the nagging paradox, that past a certain point, the more one sought luxuries and comforts, the more restless, dissatisfied, insecure, and lonely, one would feel.
that last incredible fact was the final blow to the old way of thinking, and the trees finally achieved a new consensus:
actions taken for survival were justified, no matter how vicious. but anything beyond that beared too great a cost.
and with that understanding, trees decided to move more slowly, carefully, and if possible, not at all.
today, they still compete with one another, and a fallen branch can still end an entire civilization.
but trees found their natural place, each a steadfast provider and shelter for their own little ecosystem, and we live in a much more peaceful world because of it.
also interesting is that as this whole discussion was raging, trees were quite large creatures. but it wasn’t until they perfected the practice of non-movement that they grew into the colossal towers of today. incredibly strong, resilient, long lives counted in rings, open arms come rain or shine, fire or frost, until it’s time to finally move out of the way, and give someone else their turn in the sun.