The best books forever change the way you see something – and that is what The Overstory has done for me and my connection to nature – and specifically trees.
It is hard to describe, so I will start with these three passages from different parts of the book:
That’s the trouble with people, their root problem. Life runs alongside them, unseen…A chorus of living wood sings to the woman: If your mind were only a slightly greener thing, we’d drown you in meaning.
As the lady officer in the station takes her fingerprints, she feels, for the first time since her father’s death, like she’s given the day everything it wanted.
The essay flickers under his fingers. He can’t follow it, can’t decide whether it’s brilliant or rubbish. His whole self is dissolving. All his rights and privileges, everything he owns. A great gift that has been his since birth is being taken away. It’s a grand luxurious act of self-deceit, an outright lie, that claim of Kant’s: “As far as nonhumans are concerned, we have no direct duties. All exists merely as means to an end. That end is man.”
The book is chiefly about connections – with each other, with previous and future generations and with nature and the living world. Trees play a prominent role, some might consider them characters or catalysts of the plot itself.
In reading the book (full disclosure, I’m not even finished yet), it has been an act of pure discovery and humility.
It does not overtly advocate for us to change how we see the world or to become better stewards of our environment. Yet by allowing me to reflect on what it had to say, it has done just that.
It is embarrassing that I can’t name but a few trees I come across in nature or have such little appreciation for the life one has lived and given.
To think that we pass trees that have been in our backyards since before the revolutionary war and don’t bat an eyelash or pause to marvel at it’s journey north to the sky, south into the soil and across one generation to the next.
We cut them down without hesitation. Waste their by products, like paper, without a second thought to its source. Blind to how truly connected we are, we cut their noses and spite our own faces.
Knowing the name of a thing is the first step to seeing its value and protecting it. Stopping to reflect on its journey the second. Sharing that journey with others, the third.
Consider this shared. Here is a link to buy a copy (it’s printed on recycled paper), or better yet, download it or reserve it at your local library.
Thanks for reading the latest from Moving Up.