3000 Years Of Life
Posted by Stephen Manning on Aug 9, 2012 - 4:28:23 PM
SEQUIOA CREST— I am not very religious or superstitious. But
standing in the shadow of a 250-foot Redwood named the Stag Tree, craning my
neck to look high into the canopy, I couldn’t help but feel as though something
was staring back.
As a young sapling, the Stag Tree began its reign over a
mountainside 7900-feet above sea level. It pushed its way up from the earth as
the Egyptians began constructing their great pyramids halfway around the world,
and continued to grow long after that civilization rotted away. Since its birth,
the power of great civilizations has waxed and waned, prophets have come and
gone, and our sharpest minds scratched at the surface of the earth’s secrets
only to eventually dull and fade away. The Stag Tree saw it all.
Sitting 10-feet up from its base, cradled in a perfect seat
woven by roots the size of freeway pillars, I felt very small as I was coddled
by this 3000-year-old monument to life. I have seen many large and great things
during my short time on this earth. Some are supposed to be wonders of the
world: the Great Wall of China, the massive temple Ankorwat in Cambodia, and
the hundreds of silent Buddha’s of Borabudur in Indonesia. But this tree made
me feel insignificant in a way that only the fifth oldest living thing on Earth
It is so easy to feel superior in a world where we have
manipulated the shape of the earth to our will. We construct buildings that
pierce the sky deeper and deeper, lay roads that tame hills and valleys. We go
about our lives trying to make a difference in something we care about. In the
arms of the Stag Tree though, it all seems quite laughable. It is quiet here, silent
in fact. It is a rare moment when the air is disturbed neither by the hum of
traffic or the tick of a clock. The stress caused by a job, money, even family,
subsides deep in the forest in the shade of the Stag Tree.
There are few experiences that have the ability to put us
back in our places; star gazing is one. But the Stag Tree is something that
you can see up close, smell, and feel. Just
four hours from Los Angeles, the tree lives on a hillside that is closer than
Yellowstone National Park, and is much more peaceful. Turning my back on this
wonderful piece of life to begin the walk home, I couldn’t shake the feeling
that the tree was watching me. Unlike religious figures or idols, this is a
physical presence that has watched over the earth as mankind has grown for the
past three millennia. So as silly as I knew it was, before I walked home, I
placed my hands on the ancient bark of the Stag Tree and spoke toit. It is easy to forget that the earth
is what sustains and allows us to thrive as a species, but taking a trip to the
Stag Tree is an opportunity to appreciate how much we owe Mother Nature.
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