Let me ask you a question that may startle you. ‘What living thing carries the best looking, best smelling and best tasting reproductive organs that you routinely love to fondle with your hands, bury your nose into, gawk with mesmerized eyes and suck up to with your whole mouth?’
If you have not guessed it, then you will in a very short while as you read these observations and confessions of this reborn vegetarian. The answer lies in the only living things that I know that need to live simultaneously and grow in two mediums. You and I live above the land or water and grow up in air; and so do most other creatures. Fish live and grow in water. That is, we both live in one medium.
But how about a plant and a tree? Ah yes! It lives, as if, ½ in the ground and ½ above the ground. Occasionally it grows ½ under water and ½ above water. You may quickly want to split hairs and say, ‘how about sea weeds?’ Not so fast my friend. They are anchored in the ground under water and the rest in water. Anyway, my purpose is not to split hairs with you and the experts on the living of living things but bring to you some pointers on the plant’s exceptional qualities that you crave to grab routinely in some form for your own survival.
Have you ever buried your whole nose into a flower, or, taken a full bite out of a perfectly ripe pear? Have you ever puckered your lips as if to kiss and suck the dripping juice out of an orange, or fondled the petals and the velvety center of a perfectly bloomed sun flower? Have you ever caressed and squeezed the skin of an avocado or a melon? Have you ever held to your breast a dozen roses with all their shiny garb in the form of perfectly clean leaves and stems? – and then thought to yourself ‘how beautiful must I be looking to others?’
Well, these are all the reproductive ‘organs’ of plants and trees! Moreover, you have done these acts unconsciously and unabashedly in public, en masse, every day, at least twice!
Among all living things, the plant / tree is the most courageous. I have never seen or heard of anything stand firmly its ground till death no matter who invades it. You may think this is a silly observation. But when you study the plant kingdom as a whole, their marvelous qualities seem to unravel. I do not know for sure if an animal came first or a plant, but only plants & trees embody non-violence in the most perfect way, by putting up no offence and offering no defense. We are so safe and secure with plants that we use them to comfort ourselves by cozying up under their shade. Try tipping your cowboy hat over your eyes and taking a nap under the belly of a rhino! Or, see if someone else will accommodate you some shady place. Trees are the only ones that invite anyone and everyone else to visit and mingle with them. I have never seen a fox family invite a badger family to its den! The meanness in us, we take it for granted, just as we take for granted the serenity in plants and trees.
With plants & trees everyone is welcome. If you have seen the interactions of bees and their wasp like relatives with flowers, the sight is downright rapacious. Gracious as they are, plants & trees never ever report or put up a fuss over this onslaught. In fact playing the good host, they offer the visitors a drink. No pest ever visited a flower and left unfulfilled after its tantrums.
Observe the strange egoless-ness of a tree. What it needs for itself, like its roots, trunk, branches, etc., it worries the least about its own looks and grows them somewhat random, asymmetrical and (may I say?) ugly. Its skin is full of calluses and rough. But it is a master showman and a magician at its fingertips, a seasoned host, and a clever and beautiful prostitute posing to please all your senses. What it wants to present to you and others (even if you are the tiniest-ugliest bug), like leaves, flowers and fruit, it shapes and colors them spectacularly and puts out a pleasantly numbing fragrance. No man-made institution looking for patrons, or a group of humans wanting to party, or any colony of other creatures, invited me with that form of gusto and sales pitch. I remember as a kid, spending long periods at trees, in trying to locate camouflaged budding flowers with their captivating fragrance. When the party is over, as if to say so, they shed all the leaves like tears, go to sleep, and when it is time, wake up all over again with renewed charm and energy to party.
The word ‘sweet’ in all its metaphoric or real meaning seems to originate with plants. You may say ‘almond shaped eyes’ or ‘cheeks having the color of roses’, but you will not hear almonds shaped like eyes, or roses having the color of cheeks.
Such noble living things and so generous plants & trees are, that everyone takes advantage of them without the reverse ever being true. Yet, with all the abuse some of them seem to live on forever, at least longer than any other living thing; – and that too living on the discards coming out of every opening of my and your body! Unlike the rest, they never ever discard anything that is offensive to you, do they? May be we ought to revere and visit one of these ancient trees near where we choose to live and once every 25 years or so put a plaque in its proximity that says, ” I, so and so, on such and such a date visited this beloved tree and its girth measured so much today’. Wouldn’t you like to see a living tree at Gettysburg with a plaque next to it saying, ‘Abe Lincoln gave ‘The Speech’ nearby here and my belly measured ‘ x feet, y inches’ then. Think about it; what other living creature can mark a spot for you for posterity, pointing the history of your whereabouts?
No other creature I know so gracefully accepts what nutrition comes to it, accepts it with no complaints and grows as a result of it. Then it gives away all that it can. I know communities that will not eat certain living things because they are scavengers and eat waste. I wonder how they view plants. No one can bring out into wholesomeness and holiness from the waste from of all us and feed us back the same.
Again, without splitting hairs in comparison to others living, I can say that, with no nervous system or muscles present as a means of self help, trees grow bigger and live longer than other living types. They seem to know how to re-grow just about any part of their body: disrupt and tear a root, – no problem, they know how to make more; pluck leaves, cut flowers, pick fruits, and trim some branches, – no problem again. They know how to survive. I have come to believe that trees in general, unlike the rest of us, do not die on their own by ageing. Something or somebody has to, – darn it, kill them.
To this day I can not understand why God made the trees & plant so holy, peace loving and generous, and made the rest of us so mean, aggressive and selfish. It is the only thing that can say ‘with no pain all is gain, and all is for offering’. For everyone else it is ‘no pain, no gain, and yet nothing to offer’.
I see my beloved trees and plants and I know can breathe again! With no words spoken it utters loud, ‘come to me and I will sustain you’. From the moment I was born it is the only one that worked tirelessly to sustain me while just about everything else was trying to get at me. This much is for sure: after I am gone and have broken my ties with all the mean spirited, all of me will join my beloved. When you are about to squeeze an avocado, or suck up to an orange, or smell a bouquet, will you please remember me?