Did you know aspens are connected as a single living organism? They have a complex root system that connects each aspen to the other. While they look like individual trees, they’re not. They’re clones because each tree is a genetic replicate of the other. When you see a grove of aspens, you’re not looking at individual trees but one tree. I call it the “aspen connection.”
We’re trees too. Bound by a root system that connects each of us to each other. I’m a tree. You’re a tree. But we’re both aspens. Doesn’t mean we’re the same but we come from the same source. We call it God, Source, the Universe.
In our individualist society, we cringe being seen as replicas. We want to be unique. Distinct. How can we shine otherwise? Aspens show us the beauty represented in the collective. When you see a grove of aspens, you don’t identify with one aspen. You absorb their impact as a group.
What a gift to be tethered to each other and to something greater than us, overseeing all of it – humanity, nature, animals, and insects. It means we are connected. We belong.
As social animals, we crave connection. Whether introvert or extrovert, humans yearn for it. It’s why we form groups. Families, communities, cities, nations. The need for connection compels us to reach out, to communicate. I heard in a podcast over the summer that there’s a theory that’s how language first developed – mothers wanting to talk to their babies. Makes sense to me.
We want to connect to feel a sense of belonging. It is vitally important to feel part of a group. Those who aren’t, whom we call outcasts in our society, feel that separation keenly. All you need to do is walk down a street downtown and see the consequences of not being part of “the group.” People give a wide berth to homeless people or drug addicts. So speaking with others and sharing hugs, they’re not nice-to-haves. They’re necessary for connection and belonging.
Macro to Micro
Moving from the societal level to the personal, what does it mean to be an aspen? Or to not recognize oneself as an aspen?
As an aspen, I see the importance of connecting my mind, body, heart, and spirit. This knitting together makes me whole. It’s my root system.
In fact, my body isn’t that important in the scheme of things because I am part of the aspen grove. I still take care of my body but on a bigger scale, it’s just “show.” Like the gorgeous yellow fall leaves of the aspen.
My mind soaks up nutrients from thinkers before me. Thoughts create new roots that strengthen me and, by extension, the aspen grove.
Emotions rule the heart. With our interconnected roots, when I am hurt, we are all hurt. Empathy happens when I recognize someone is hurting and this gets transferred through the root system.
Spirit connects me to the larger whole. We are one. The aspen grove provides the visual image of our oneness with Spirit.
Header Photo by Donald Giannatti on Unsplash (grove), Photo by Peng Chen on Unsplash (tree trunks), Photo by Nicole Giampietro on Unsplash (trees facing sky), Photo by Evan Wise on Unsplash (big grove with tons of trees)