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Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, October 06, 2008

Talking To the Tree

Years ago, I attended a workshop in Georgia that was QUITE confrontive for most of the participants. Lots of emotional sturm und drang. I did fine...until about a week in. Then I freaked out. I was going through an ego death, and the fear response was so huge I couldn't see it: I was inside the fear. I asked the leader of the workshop what was going on, and he called me on my bullshit FAST. I asked him what I should do, and he suggested the Talk To The Tree exercise.

This is how it works: you go to a park, or forested area where there are trees, but you also have a bit of privacy. You find one that looks, well, "friendly," and you talk to it. Yeah, I know EXACTLY how that sounds. You wait for another human being to appear, walking down the road or whatever...and you note the way you changed as soon as another human being was in the picture. The gap between the way you were with the tree and the way you were when someone else appears is the cost and weight of your ego. The secret to being powerful in the world is to be as natural with other people as you were with the tree.

YOU MUST TRY THIS TO UNDERSTAND IT. Your intellectual concept of what will happen, or how it might feel, or what it might mean, is NOTHING until you try it.

I invite you to do so, and share the result...I'll tell you what happened to me tomorrow.


Lester Spence said...

this is an excellent idea. thank you.

Steve Perry said...

I talked to a lot of trees, in the sixties. Of course then, some of them talked back ...

Anonymous said...

Uh... no. I live where I have lots of trees I can talk to in complete privacy. I have, in fact, caressed trees and I even hugged one once just to see what it would feel like. I have no problem with talking to trees. I might even try it. But no one will ever see me talking to a tree and if that means I have issues then so be it.

Christian H. said...

Does that mean I have been working on separating my ego from my interactive life? I do that experiment all the time.

I use any thing convenient, though. I guess it's an exercise of internalizing. Not feeling offensive or invasive just expressive of you.

Kami said...

I *have* to try this now. I'll see if I can tomorrow, though finding the privacy in the first place might be tough downtown where I'm ending up for several hours in the afternoon. Out here at our place I could be beside one of our trees for days and no one would go by. Let's see, it's Tuesday ... I'd see folks on Saturday. Bicyclists use our hill to train.

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Steven Barnes said...


Might I respectfully suggest that you try this particular exercise? It is not the same as your (or anyone's) concepts of it, and relating to natural things is different from relating to man-made objects. I think you might find it valuable.

Christian H. said...

I spend 10 minutes a day observing and relating to pigeons, no matter what people think.

I actually think the Internet is the ultimate test of your center.

I've expressed myself to the point of being thrown off of sites.

I'm what I am good, bad or indifferent. Though I lean towards indifferent.

Typo edit

Steven Barnes said...


for me, the test of your center is your balance in the arenas of body, mind, and relationships. Talk is just talk.