How to Listen to Trees

For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farm boy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day leads you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.

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“Get Drunk” by Charles Baudelaire

Always be drunk.
That’s it!
The great imperative!
In order not to feel
Time’s horrid fardel
bruise your shoulders,
grinding you into the earth,
Get drunk and stay that way.
On what?
On wine, poetry, virtue, whatever.
But get drunk.
And if you sometimes happen to wake up
on the porches of a palace,
in the green grass of a ditch,
in the dismal loneliness of your own room,
your drunkenness gone or disappearing,
ask the wind,
the wave,
the star,
the bird,
the clock,
ask everything that flees,
everything that groans
or rolls
or sings,
everything that speaks,
ask what time it is;
and the wind,
the wave,
the star,
the bird,
the clock
will answer you:
“Time to get drunk!
Don’t be martyred slaves of Time,
Get drunk!
Stay drunk!
On wine, virtue, poetry, whatever!”

Happiness

In general, I can say that everyone wants to be happy.  But it is also a known fact that many people are miserable all over the world.  We are all in pursuit of happiness as we strive to achieve our dreams.  In this journey we take to find happiness, not all of us succeed in achieving our goals.  There are those who give up when things get too tough.  There are those who give up without even trying.  And there are those lucky few who get to achieve their goals but still somehow realize that what they have been striving for did not bring lasting happiness.

What is Happiness?

Does this sound like a losing battle to you?  Well, actually, achieving “happiness” is just a matter of perception. Your notion of happiness may be far from what it really is.  And sometimes what you’ve wanted for so long is not really what you needed.  Just as the song goes “Be careful what you wish for cause you just might get it…”  Before you go chasing rainbows, try answering the question: “What is happiness?”  What is it that would make you really happy?  There are some factors that can make a person happy.  Peace of mind, contentment, purpose, companionship, spirituality, and love.

Peace of Mind

Everybody has a conscience.  This is our guide in making our life decisions, big or small.  A clean conscience gives you peace of mind.  This is living a life without fear because you know that you have done nothing wrong.  To have peace of mind, be sure to always be fair and try your best to always do what is right and just for everybody. I know it is easy to say, “be fair.” But to actually live by that rule is very difficult considering the pressures of society and, of course, the temptations that come our way.  Just remember that whatever great things you may get through cheating and stealing, it will never be as precious as a being able to sleep soundly at night.

Contentment

All of us wish we had something that we didn’t have.  And when we get that, we want something else or something more.  The truth is, we should be content with what we have right now.  We cannot change the things we didn’t have before. And we will never know what we will have tomorrow.  So if you ate well today, you have a home, a family, and everything that you need today, be thankful.  Someone else somewhere else in the world would kill to have the things you have right now.  Appreciating the graces you receive each day and being content knowing that your needs have been filled simplifies life’s little joys.  The things that you want will never bring complete happiness.  But to be content everyday brings happiness that lasts day after day.

Purpose

Many have read or have heard of the book A Purpose Driven Life.  And by the success of the book, you will see that so many people are in search of a purpose or meaning to life.  Do not do things just for the money.  Of course we need to work to make a living.  But always ask yourself “Why?”  Why are you doing what you are doing?  If you have a job that you hate, try to remember why you still stay.  It may be because you have a family that you love, and they are depending on you.  Whatever sacrifices are made gain purpose because they are done out of love.  Everything has a purpose.  Find the deeper meaning, and you will be able to see which of your activities are still worth doing or not.  Which of your activities have actual purpose? Which of them bring you happiness?

Companionship

No man is an island.  People need to reach out to other people.  You don’t need a life partner to be happy.  Some people choose to live a single life.  But to be single does not mean you have to be alone.  Never live your life just for yourself.  You have to coexist, interact, and be part of a community.  Share your life with others and see how other people can make a difference in your outlook in life.

Spirituality

Faith in God and a connection to your inner being brings inner peace.  This inner peace radiates to others and gives a person a positive outlook in life.  This positivity brings forth good things that will bring more smiles into your life.

Love

The ultimate rule to happiness is love.  Do everything out of love, and you will feel a silent joy in your heart.  Do one act of kindness at a time, and you will feel the love in your heart fill your life with happiness.