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September 30, 2009 | Space | Comments 6

What a tree taught me about the Art of Persuasion.

Izapa Stella“You must approach quietly as a doe to the river for an evening drink. You must be slow as the ripening wood with the patience of an ancient weaver, bringing into being one perfect tapestry.” ~ naylin isikinihi naakai ts’ilsoose yraceburu

Today, I AM appreciating the beautiful tree still breathing beyond my window.  I say ’still breathing’ because two days ago its life was in peril.

I became aware of its precarious position as I sat at my desk, staring thru the windows of my computer, grossly involved in I’m not sure what.

Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I looked up to find the tree shaking wildly from side to side, as a “landscaper” tried to push it over and snap! its trunk.

Thankfully the ‘push’ of his small Cat-like machine was no match for the strength of deep roots.

Now, I have a confession:  One of the things I want to see before I pass from this earth is a falling tree.

To be more specific, to witness a tree gratefully giving itself back to the land, having lived a full life, returning home in its own time.   Not cut down, nor pushed over or having slowly died because it has been trimmed beyond its ability to thrive.

So, after racing thoughts seered through my mind, “No!  This is not how I want to see a tree go!”,  I prayed for a way to save this verdant friend and was inspired to make my way to the fence.

I greeted the ‘tree attackers’, inquired about their plans, then politely told them the tree wanted to stay — pointing out its unique beauty, cooling shade, and the value it would bring to the property they are trying to sell. Reiterating the tree wanted to stay did little more than garner smirks and rolled eyes.  I guess they don’t talk to trees often.

Only when I pointed out that its roots extended to my property, and that if uprooted, may cause trouble with the water and electric lines that run along the fence did they finally agree to re-look at the decision to take it out.

So what did the tree teach me about the Art of Persuasion?

We have to find what inspires others, not just what turns us on, in order to make positive change in the world.

We also have to be willing to have flexibility while standing our ground, bend toward the Lighter side of life, reach out to our neighbors, stick true to the be-leaf anything is possible AND let go of all attachments in order to nourish upcoming opportunities to thrive and grow!  What an amazing teacher trees can be!

So today I invite you to shift perspective and approach an opportunity or challenge from the other parties point of view.  How will this change your approach?  What inspiring ideas will come to you when the perspective changes from ‘What’s in it for me’ to ‘What’s in it for you’?

I would love to hear your stories and experiences where shifting views has made a positive difference for yourself — and, of course, others, too!



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Filed Under: Earth WisdomEdify, Educate, Empower

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About the Author: Stacey Robyn is an Ambassador of Gratitude, author, speaker, ardent tree lover, and Light Coach. She is currently stewarding the Go Gratitude Experiment, being raised by four children, and can often be found listening to the ancient trees of the Pacific Northwest, her current hOMe.

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  1. I had the same wish to see a tree fall naturally, even to witness the moment a leaf let go of a branch. I’ve never seen a leaf actuallly detach. But I have seen a tree fall, though it was not what i expected.

    My treehugging ways go back to childhood, and I’ve been an environmental educator for many years. Before that it was forestry, where I planted about 12,000 trees (we carried 300 bare root seedlings to a bag). I did it long enough to get good on a chain saw, and to fell a few trees I wish I hadn’t.

    Now I live in the old downtown of a small city in California. Nice place. Lots of open space, which I’ve helped preserve. Our lot is half a block deep, as is the lot behind us that faces the next street. A remnant native oak forest remains standing in their back yard. It’s a miracle, and we’re so thankful for its lovely company.

    On our side of the fence is a certified wildlife habitat, with trees and shade and food for birds, possoms and squirrels. A brush pile lets them hide from too many roaming cats.

    Next door is a different reality, a 20unit, tightly managed apt complex where asphalt has been laid from fence to fence and the few small trees are boxed in and trimmed often. Every night, flourescent light from the carport needles through our olive tree hedge like the brightest full moon. Every day but Sunday the caretaker fires up a leafblower and spends an hour disturbing the peace. The owner spends most of his days there loudly supervising his caretaker, who never says a word.

    The thought has occurred to me that the asphalt people might report us for noise from all the birds. They called the fire department the last time we had a hot, nearly smokeless cooking fire made with prunings from our fruit trees. A long fire truck brought seven guys who marched into our yard just as I walked out with a tray of veggies to roast, making it a legal fire. Just as the students on our other side suddenly let out a great billow of smoke as they lit their BBQ with way too much lighter fluid.

    When an old pepper tree, a bee haven, on our property pushed up a few boards and some asphalt on the apt side, the owner yells over the fence to tell us he’ll sue unless we cooperate. This man, who’d never spoken to us before, tells us he plans to cut the trunk straight down from the fence and dig out all the roots on his side - about a third the tree’s mass. We had to hire a treeclimber to lighten the load on our side, and mourned as the brush mounted along the entire driveway as high as the eaves. The neighbor was in no way grateful for our sacrifice. We didn’t put up any fight, but I believe in his view he won a battle, and quiet gloating was the appropriate response.

    The bees are returning as the pepper tree regrows (just on our side of course, as the neighbor trims its branches straight up from the fence). The tree is fine, and we’re grateful he didn’t poison its roots.

    Back to the story about seeing a tree fall in its own time, which takes place in a little beach town just up the coast, where I lived before I moved onto the pepper tree’s property. My house was on a creek, next to old sycamores and pines and live oaks. One year the water ran high and long, and an 80′ pine began to slide, creep, down the bank. Over that winter the pine’s trunk kept slipping one way and its top tilted the other. It would lay down in an empty field on the other side of the creek, away from my house, so no worries. But whenever it rained and the creek rose again, i watched to see it moving, listening for the groaning and popping that would come before the big tree crashed into the ground.

    One afternoon near dusk, i heard the groan. Sure enough, and there was the sound of branches untangling from branches on trees that were not falling. I ran to the window and eyeballed the pine’s angle against other features of the landscape. The groaning became more urgent, louder. I could hear the wood splintering. Big pops as the grain separated.

    But the pine stayed where it was and I realized, turning just in time to see the old willow next to my house tipping over, leaning out over the creek, branches now thrashing loose from the canopy, creaking like a ship in a storm and groaning its age as it fell slowly into the creek, splashing gently, pulling its roots and a good chunk of bank down with it. The creek backed up but eventually readjusted its flow when the water got strong enough to turn the tree downstream, now chewing up the bank on the inside of the oxbow, which was a good thing from my perspective.

    I’d hardly given a second thought to that gnarly old willow, ancient for its race but one of many old willows along the creek. I appreciated it though, because it protected our bank on the outside of the oxbow, even after it fell. But for some reason I never thanked that lovely willow tree until that day I saw it fall.

  2. What an adventure! It strikes me that your home, and the complex next door, are like the yin/yang of nature. Each presently impacting the other, and yet wholly unique. Worlds apart yet connected.

    Thank you for sharing … in your words, I can hear the groan of a grateful tree returning home. Through you, I have witnessed a tree falling - funny how many ways this can come about.

  3. I teach argument/persuasion to college freshmen. I can’t tell you how difficult it is to flip that switch from pressing their own point of view to finding the thing that will make a connection with the other person. You’ve given me a wonderful example! Thank you. :-)

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