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Don't Look Forward

Look around

Four paperbark trees near water in late afternoon light.
Paperbarks on Ryan Road, near Evergreen, in late afternoon light.

Steve Taylor, author and lecturer on spirituality and psychology, wrote in his poem ‘The Trees’:

Don’t look forward, look around –

In the poem he swears these words were spoken to him by two oak trees at a train station.

Imagine trees talking.

On my daily walk I pass a stand of paperbarks. They’re old, part of the landscape, naturally occurring. The wind whispers through the leaves, sways the branches, and flutters the white, peeling bark. Sometimes I step up close to them and feel enfolded in their presence. They’ve never said anything.

But if they did, what would they say to me?

These paperbarks look ancient. They’ve seen more summers than I ever will, and they’ll still be here when I’m a dusty memory. They were here when Aboriginal people walked the land. They used the papery bark for their shelters and wrapped fish in it prior to cooking.

But, back to the present, and trees talking — or not talking — to me.

I suspect that to hear a tree talk, I’d have to be quiet, still, patient, receptive. I’d need to make a space in my head where there are no words, in order to hear the “words” they speak.

I’d have to empty myself of preconceptions like trees don’t talk and only humans have souls or consciousness.

Then I’d hear wise, calming words, I’m sure, like Steve Taylor did:

Don’t look forward, look around – accept and be content.

This is what these paperbarks are doing day and night, through all the seasons. And that’s their advice to me.

With love, Marlane

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