Ten Lessons From an Old Chestnut Tree

Painting of an old chestnut tree

The other day, I was enjoying my morning walk around the neighborhood when, quite unexpectedly, it began to rain. I had no umbrella, and home was streets away. An old tree beckoned to me, waving a branch or two, a chestnut by profession. I found shelter under its wet branches and settled there, meditating, waiting for the rain to abate. It wasnโ€™t long before the tree began whispering to me, in that leafy, rustling way peculiar to trees.

“How about some tips?” quoth he. “You look quite lost to me.”

“Tips from a tree?” I marveled.

“Why not?” he creaked. “After all, have not all published books been once upon a time good trees? Don’t you think there’s some wisdom in the paper, too, or do you think all the wisdom’s in the ink?”

  1. Practice patience. Birds come perch on my branches when they please, when the weather is good, when they are in the mood. I can flutter my branches as much as I please, beckoning to them, but they show up only when my branches are still.

  2. Don’t criticize anyone. A dog lifts up a leg and does something unpleasant on my trunk. I say nothing. A dog is a dog and will go away.

  3. Be generous. On sunny days, my shade comforts the bug, the squirrel, the stray cat, the mongrel, the vagrant, the street sweeper, and the businessman in his cravat, all of whom come and go. No questions asked.

  4. Give and take. My leaves breathe in carbon dioxide. They breathe out oxygen.

  5. Be as soft as leaves, as strong as bark. I stay strong during the storm, but grow all soft in the summer breeze, when the sunshine tickles my leaves.

  6. Remember your roots. As a tree, I am essentially alone. But even I stretch out my roots underground, toward the trees nearby. That cypress over there, across the street, thatโ€™s my cousin.

  7. Don’t speak if you donโ€™t have to. When you do, speak softly, like my leaves. Come thunder, come hail, a tree never shouts.

  8. It’s the small things that really matter, as they say. Storms are bad enough, and so are woodpeckers, but they happen only now and then. Ants, on the other hand, pester me every day.

  9. Practice stillness. I am a tree: I don’t go anywhere; rain visits me, so does sunshine. Everything I really need comes to me.

  10. Don’t forget. When lovers scratch their names on my bark, their letters remain engraved on me forever, even if they never visit me again.

That’s what it had to say, the old chestnut tree, and when the rain calmed down, I said goodbye and went about my business, thinking to myself I had just met a most peculiar tree…

Did you like the tree’s “lessons”? If yes, which is your second favorite?

 

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24 thoughts on “Ten Lessons From an Old Chestnut Tree

  1. I liked ‘a chestnut by profession’ very very much indeed. Who would have thought trees were professionals. I shall have more respect for the garden Oak from now on. I have to say number seven is my favourite. I am prone to letting my tongue run way ahead of my brain. Be quiet, my brain says. But my tongue doesn’t listen.

      1. My grandmother did (does, I suppose, since we still have her lovely house). And yes! The squirrels eat all the fruit in the garden, naughty creatures. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Yes, nature has a way of speaking to us ALL the time, if only we are open enough and perceptive enough to listen. Strange are her ways of talking to us, yes?

    But, as a safety precaution; standing under trees when it rains is seldom recommended. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Umm, over here, in India, and going by general happenings on the basis of nature and her logic, we try not to stand under trees when it rains because of the fear that parts, if not the whole tree, could fall because of the force of rain. It’s very true you know ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Very wise words from an old chestnut tree. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the 10 lessons. My second favourite one was: “Donโ€™t criticize anyone. A dog lifts up a leg and does something unpleasant on my trunk. I say nothing. A dog is a dog and will go away.”. Everyone may judge inside, but even if we say it aloud, we cannot change people – we can only change ourselves.

      1. “Itโ€™s the small things that really matter, as they say. Storms are bad enough, and so are woodpeckers, but they happen only now and then. Ants, on the other hand, pester me every day.” – I believe it’s always the little things in life. The small moments that really touch us or hurt us.

  4. I loved this post, Vincent. Very well written, I really felt like this chestnut tree had a personality. My second favourite lesson is number one ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Wonderful post! #3 – Be generous; #6 – Remember your roots; #7 – Don’t speak if you don’t have to. I have no trouble with #3 and #6. I need to work on #7 and some of the others too! I really like this post. I love trees and I like the way you incorporated the chestnut tree’s point of view.

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