Tree school is something that Peter Wohlleben speaks about in his book, The Hidden Life of Trees. He speaks about how trees learn to support themselves.
"Trees learn to support themselves. Trees don't like to make things unnecessarily difficult. Why bother to grow a thick, sturdy trunk if you can lean comfortably against your neighbors? As long as they remain standing, not much can go wrong. However, every couple of years, a group of forestry workers or a harvesting machines moves in to harvest 10 percent of the trees in commercial forests in Central Europe. And in natural forests, it is the death from old age of a mighty mother tree that leaves surrounding trees without support. That's how gaps in the canopy open up, and how formerly comfortable beeches or spruce find themselves suddenly wobbling on their own two feet - or rather, on their own root systems. Trees are not known for their speed, and so it takes three to ten year before they stand firm once again after such disruptions.
The process of learning stability is triggered by painful micro-tears that occur when the trees bend way over in the wind, first in one direction and then in the other. Wherever it hurts, that's where the tree must strengthen its support structure. This takes a whole lot of energy, which is then unavailable for growing upward."
Like the trees, we suffer from what ails us. Whether or not the bending into the wind makes us stronger is a lesson in living. It is a lesson in aging. When we are younger we often feel that we can stand against the wind...the hurts and bruises that befall us. If only, I am just a bit more positive, more steadfast, or carry more strength in me...then I can move through this challenge! We call in our inner choleric, beseeching...if only. It is in the bending that we can find strength as humans as well.
Tree school is a worthy pursuit. I only have to open my eyes and look around me at all of the trees standing ready to teach me. I have lived with the same trees on this land and nearby for more than 30 years. It is at the edge of a large forest. On this land there are many white pine trees of which a fair number of them, have caught a blight in the past years. So, not all the pines are growing straight and tall. Rather they branch out, become weak and frequently over time the branches can break off. It is a visible picture of the cycle of illness and challenge.
White pine trees are frequently summoned in flower essence remedies for nostalgia and homesickness. Sickness for ones original home perhaps? A strong sense of longing for something missing in a life. I know that after living here for this long, that not all things can be healed and addressed in our longings. The Pine Trees show this in their growing habit. Despite the many years of growing upward, they also grow outward. These wounds and challenges in a life also grow in side way branching sentences that we include in our life story.
I think we can address these thickened skins that we carry, both on the inside and the outside of our flesh. Learning to study trees - going to tree school helps with some of this. However, not all things will be tethered off in a healthy way and in this we must learn to carry along with us, things that are less robust or well heeled in. It is okay, for a live well-lived is not how much we have fixed on the journey but, perhaps how deeply we have looked into ourselves. Understanding the habits and meaning of our lives might serve us better than trying to "fix" all of it. Gifts of challenge and illness might not be revealed to us until much later in our lives. At age 30 we can not know what we know in our 50's. Life looks different in each phase. There is a wider view. It is a different view. It can all be a beautiful view.
The tree school that we can attend each day provides us with a personal to each of us, map of living. Trees are a community of beings that can teach us and show us ways that are much like our own. Strength, courage, steadfastness and beauty paint the landscapes. Challenge, illness, grief, and struggle also dot the landscape in tree communities. By taking the time to listen to trees we might begin to learn to transfer this to ourselves. For often what we really need most is to be listened to. The listening provides a wide view as well as a close inner view. Our inner landscape and interior systems are reflected in what we learn from the outer nature of trees. Taking time to attend Tree School will draw powerful learning that will help us to bend a bit better in the wind.