Point of View
3000 Years Of Life
By Stephen Manning
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 could.


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 to it. 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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