I’m struck by how fast we move these days. We rush from Point A to Point B. We start our days with agendas and we approach moments in our lives with fixed expectations.
But what about everything in between Point A and Point B? What about surprises and serendipity? What about slowing down and smelling the proverbial roses?
The other day I was taking my morning walk and I was in a hurry. I had an obligation that required me to be home about fifteen minutes earlier than usual. I walked at a brisk pace; my eyes were solely focused on the road and sidewalk, and my ears were attuned to a news podcast playing in my ear buds. Halfway through the walk, I got a call; meeting cancelled. I instinctively slowed down, and out of nowhere—trees appeared. Trees that were beginning to experience the beginnings of autumn with yellow and red and orange leaves. They were everywhere!
Where had I been for the previous hour?
I recall a quote by Martin Buber: “I consider a tree… The tree is no impression, no play of my imagination, no value depending on my mood; but it is bodied over against me and has to do with me, as I with it—only in a different way. Let no attempt be made to sap the strength from the meaning of the relation: relation is mutual.”
I slowed my pace even more. I channeled my inner-Thoreau and imagined myself alone in the woods. My midwestern suburban neighborhood came to life. I saw squirrels and dog walkers and students riding their bicycles to school and cross guards and the trees. I watched it all play out—the falling leaves and children in uniforms and babies in strollers, and the eyes of every dog on a leash, wise eyes that pulled me in.
These moments of mutual relation are essential to our wellbeing. They humble us and open our eyes and hearts. When we rush through life and impose our preconceived ideas and agendas we can become hardened, limited, and we can miss out on the many magical moments peppered throughout our day.
So today, rather than rushing and imposing, I encourage you to consider a tree. What is this moment saying to you?