How People Became Trees


by Junie Nguyen

The other day, my 4-year-old niece noted, rather out of the blue, that trees just stand there when they’re in your way. “They just won’t listen!” she said.

Of course my sister and I agreed that this was true. Haven’t you found it to be so? We all had a conversation then about how the tree is just being a tree. It’s doing it’s best at what it does and really it’s not doing anything right or wrong. It’s just being a tree. We all came to a consensus that trees are pretty great after all, despite they’re stubbornness of being. None of us, least of all my niece, would want them to be anything else, even if they do sometimes get in your way while you’re walking.

Little by little the conversation branched out beyond the world of trees to the world of people. Could it be that people, when doing something you don’t like, are just being people much like the tree that is just being a tree? Maybe they’re just doing their best. Maybe they’re not doing anything right or wrong really, despite how it might feel or look to us. After all, can’t we agree that every–every–person is really pretty great? Would you really want someone to not be himself, even though who he is is sometimes an inconvenience to you?

A few hours later, while we found ourselves driving in the insanity of L.A. traffic, a driver cut through a few neighboring lanes and into ours requiring my sister to slam on the brakes. She and I, fuming, had to stop ourselves from namecalling and instead I shrugged and said, “Eh, he was really being a tree there.” Just doing the best he can…doing what he does…being who he is.

Soon, we were all quipping things like, “Well, she is just being a tree I guess,” “We’re all just trees after all,” and sometimes the less enlightened, “Arg, what a tree.”

It’s not perfect perhaps, but there is a measure of forgiveness in our new metaphor that makes quite a bit of difference. And it has made freeway driving a whole lot easier.

I think I’ll keep trying to let people be trees.


11 thoughts on “How People Became Trees

  1. We were having a picnic with a young boy who said nothing for ages, just gazed up at the trees around us. when questioned, he came out with a real gem. “Do you think the trees know how tall they are?” Years later I still wonder.

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