the walking trees: roots in transition

“The most important aspect of a being on a spiritual path may be to just keep moving.”
— Pema Chodron

In the rainforests of the Americas, the walking trees are an indispensable anomaly. Their roots chart a conscious journey across the land - unlike their stationary kin - perhaps as far as twenty meters per year. As the soil around them erodes with the harsh elements of time, the walking trees grow long roots in search of sunshine and solid ground to stand on. As the new roots extend themselves to settle in slowly, the tree trunk leans toward them, lifting the old roots from the earth and relocating itself entirely - literally walking across the forest.

The life of the walking trees is one of roots in transition, of breaking free from life-defeating conditions and seeking homes of impermanence by way of growth, adaptation and natural evolution. From birth through death, they live life on the move.

Like the walking trees, the roots of my ongoing crisis rest on the reality that I live in a world that doesn’t quite yet exist. Staying in one place for too long is wrought with an existential stagnation that feels a lot like continuing to wear the jeans you’ve outgrown because there aren’t any around you that fit. As a coping strategy, the art of ‘becoming’ has become my constant state of being - a moving toward, a reaching for, a co-creation of novelty and remembrance, a stepping out of our collectively comfortable discomfort, a silencing of social confines, a purposeful forgetting, an unlearning in simultaneity with becoming anew, nurturing possibilities of self, and reinventions of society, in harmony with nature.

In this almost-world I’m becoming into and along with, my nomadic meandering - deliberate in manifesting a revolutionary reality, expressing unexpressed selves, and disclosing undisclosed worlds - seems the most fitting choice of lifestyle for my process of moving beyond and toward. In fact, I’ve come to believe that life as a perpetual traveler is the only life that makes any sense for me at all. Like the walking trees, my roots are constantly in transition.

Along the journey I mingle with dreamers, drop-outs, rebels and believers, living lightly on the land and engaging in mostly unproductive pursuits, living their values and sharing the art of being with one another and the world, writing new stories with each disappearing footprint in the sand. Life slows down and heartbeats calibrate to the sound of the waves against the rocks, breath gathers air between the quiet leaves, our skin rests gently in the hammock shade before the storm and we remember what it’s worth to be alive.

We become more than acquaintances, yet something shy of friends. Like comrades sailing a similar course across unchartered seas, committed to simplicity, awareness, possibility and expansion, bridging worlds by chasing dreams, shedding skins of self toward becoming anew in all the ways that feel right and fit true.

Rummaging through the jeans warehouse of life, we are the nomad revolutionaries on a walking-tree journey of transforming this jungle of a world by simply becoming anew.

As a totem for transformation, the walking trees encourage us to embrace our nomadic meanderings as survival, purpose and birthright, teaching us to journey through life as a process of infinite coming into being – of becoming simultaneously who we are and who we were born to be.

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Three months ago, I left my temporary home with the permanent man of my dreams, our surfboards and a hefty pair of backpacks towing our bare necessities, and headed North. We surfed and slept in, camped in vans and visited with family we know better now as friends. We worked hard and didn’t forget to play. We let our desires guide our compass, and tried new experiences on for size. We skinned our shins in overhead barreling surf and bruised our tailbones on icy mountain slopes. We picked pumpkins and hiked through brussels sprout fields en route to the secluded sands of unknown beaches. We saw Santa in his sleigh and the Statue of Liberty from way up high in the sky.

It’s been a journey of beauty and fear, of crisis and contrast. Of finding our roots in transition somewhere between rollercoasters and skyscrapers, leaning our trees toward snow-covered mountains and salty-cold seas. Sipping spring water on the farm, shooting sake in the City, from the Golden Gate to the Sunshine State, walking barefoot across civil war cemeteries buried beneath Earth red as the blood of skeletons standing their ground, to hell with survival, no match for integrity, stoic as stone. Lost in cheeseburger paradise, where frozen yogurt swirled to our hearts’ insatiable discontent. Shedding skins, crying oceans, planting moons, sharing smiles, screaming fights, growing up, washing clothes stained with sweat and tears of bodies born for better, weathering skies blue, black and grey, breathing smoke and ash from fires blazing across the Bay, digging our toes into frigid sands, drinking manufactured melting snow, collecting fallen pinecones and shiny quartz crystal stones, following all the feathers toward a journey all our own.

tall trees (2).JPG

Today, we’ve come home to our impermanence in a familiar forest, settling in to tomorrow’s version of our becoming, manifesting dreams into reality like clouds conspiring with angels as the sun sets wildly beyond the liquid horizon of transformation snaking across our seas.

Perhaps I’ve always had a special affinity for the walking trees because I resonate with their rejection of a stationary permanence, their rebellious freedom among the giants of eternal stability in the surrounding forests they call family, their enviable evolutionary power to literally walk their roots, in constant transition, toward a destination all their own. In their unwillingness to stay stuck in the millennia of standing life on Earth, they are the not-so-wayward nomads, charting a distinct destiny they know only as their natural birthright on the planet. And in their quiet revolution, the walking trees are my mentors along this journey of infinite becoming. They are my traveling soul sisters dancing our branches to a different bass drum beat. And the deeper I journey into this jungle of endless discovery and exploration, the more I believe the walking trees are everything I dare to dream.

“At any point in the history-making process, an individual is caught in two places, experiencing the dissatisfactions and disappointments of what they know and habitually desire and the satisfactions and surprises of what is new, but hard to fully recognize and want. The individual needs nourishment and encouragement from without to sustain acts of self-cultivation, to see changing selves as contributing to changing worlds.”
— J.K. Gibson-Graham, A Post-Capitalist Politics