On Trees

The woods are majestic. Everything is so quiet there. You can hear the creaking of the trees as they sway in the wind, their frozen limbs not yielding to the movement. The trails in the forest are normally hiking trails in the summer and off-roading trails for the occasional ATV that attempts to make its way through its narrow pathways. But in the winter, they belong to the snowmobiles. The only footprints on them are mine.

When you’re in the middle of the forest, you can’t really see anything around you except trees. It makes you feel almost like you’re out in the middle of nowhere. But of course, you’re not. The occasional sound of a car reminds you of that.

Every time a car goes by, you hear the tires on snow and a whooshing noise as it moves through space, pushing air out of its way. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between the wind whistling through the trees and the sound of a car. It gets me a lot when I’m running. A lot of times, I’ll think a car is coming, when really, it’s the wind. Other times, I’ll tell myself “That’s not a car. You thought it was a car last time. But you can’t be fooled this time around.” And a car comes around the corner.

It’s so deceiving. Every time we think we’ve got it all figured out, we really don’t. The world always has a way to rectify our incorrect thinking. We don’t know everything; we are not omniscient.

I noticed today that most of the trees in the forest are thin. It’s hard to notice the width of their trunks in the middle of summer when the forest is filled with green leaves and shrubs. But in the winter, the forest is bare and you can see right through the mass of trees.

In the forest, trees are thin and tall. They are thin so that there’s room for many trees to grow. They are tall so that their leaves can gather plenty of sunlight in the spring and summer.

We are not trees.

We want so desperately to be tall and thin, because that’s what certain societal members have told us to be. Trees must be thin for survival; in nature, only the well-adapted survive. Humans are not at odds for space like trees are. We do not rely on the sun for nourishment. We were not made to be stick-thin, for we have no need to be this way.

Thinness is not imperative for survival; in fact, it is counterintuitive. To this day, anorexia nervosa is the most fatal mental illness. Thin is an unattainable ideal; thin is never thin enough. To them, it’s better to die thin than live fat. The thinnest girls waste away to nothing, wisps of the people they once could have been.

The trees with the thickest trunks and deepest roots are the sturdiest.

But what does it matter?

We are not trees.

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Audrey Miller is a writer for The Lorian.

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