Making sense of life, together

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It's at those moments when we're feeling low in life that we realise what really matters - the ability to reach out to those with whom we share the mutual bond of love. For some it's immediate family and for others, it's their close circle of friends. For animal lovers, it's their dog or cat and nature lovers will often turn to their plants for solace. I could tell you about the way I tided over my teenage bouts of depression through long, soul-searching conversations with my mother. Or I could tell you about the intensely close bonds I formed on campus during post-graduation and the way we pulled each other up, when the other had lost the sheen of optimism. But I'll tell you something different - I'll tell you about the trees outside my house.

Throughout my growing years, I'd be incredibly fascinated by the trees outside our windows. Fortunately in those days, the foliage around the building was a lot denser than it is now. As a child, it stupefied me that while one could converse with humans and even animals via signs and gestures, one couldn't exchange a single word with a tree or a flower. And so after a fight or a trying day at school, I'd watch the asoka tree outside our bedroom window, wishing they'd talk to me. They'd rustle gently in the afternoon breeze, seemingly oblivious to my presence. But after a while, a strange sort of magic would occur. In spite of the breeze, the tree would cease to move. The leaves would be absolutely still; as though listening to me. Encouraged, I'd tell the tree about the friends who'd betrayed me at school; about loneliness, disappointment and disillusionment. These were heavy emotions for a child to bear and yet as we all know, childhood is not as hunky dory as it's painted out to be. Those of us who aren't sociable or popular sometimes have a hard time 'fitting in' and understanding the ways of the world. The tree would listen without judgement. And then I'd ask a question; usually a sort of reassurance. In my heart, I'd decide that if the tree began waving in the wind, it was a yes. It would also be a sign that it was my friend. And I kid you not, whether or not there was any breeze (often there wasn't), the dear asoka tree would begin waving and the breeze that wafted towards me was symbolic of the friendship we had forged.

At heart, I'm an optimist. But often, this outlook is shrouded by the daily discontent that I experience and sometimes, I forget that it exists altogether. I even wonder whether I'm actually a cynic. It is as those times that I turn to my best friends - the trees; both near and far. They have hearts far purer than people for they know no evil. I believe that these beings are perhaps more sentient than us and they have been around for many aeons longer than man. Trees are so different from us; as though carved from a different hand of creation altogether. But they embody many things that we are not - peace, oneness with nature and unconditional generosity.

I love the people who make my life worth living. But I was devastated when most of the asoka trees outside our bedroom were hewn to make space for more light. I shed tears every time I read about deforestation in favour of development. Nature is the ultimate embodiment of optimism for me and I hope I never have to face a world without her in it. 

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