The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben makes a case that trees are beings in a social network for the same reasons that humans live in communities. With much biologic research and a bit of anthropomorphizing, we learn that life in trees—filled with molecules, sugars, fungi, bacteria, heavy metals and toxins, nitrogen, woodpeckers, beetles, and more—are very busy from the tips of their roots to the tops of their crowns.
If a forest is left undisturbed by humans, the rate of photosynthesis is the same for all the trees. “The trees, it seems, are equalizing differences between the strong and the weak” (p. 15) through their roots underground. But also that they keep the boundaries of their crowns so that all can receive light. A tree can only be as strong as the forest surrounding it.
While I was out running along a wooded path, I realized that trees just might be smarter than humans—or at least, more authentic toward caring for themselves and others around them. I decided I’d like to be a tree in my next life, but then realized, I can be a tree right now, extending my roots and crowns all around me and yet, staying within my boundaries so that others can thrive too.