Riding my bike in the mountains outside of Tokyo I was on a steep 10 kilometer climb and needed a break. In the middle of nowhere, with my friends a few kilometers ahead I was alone. Taking in the surroundings the first thing I noticed were the sharp mound like mountains typical of Japan. Not high enough in altitude to keep trees from growing they populated the mountains with their deep summer green. The next thing I noticed–silence.
We confuse silence with a lack of sound. This is not quite the case. Silence has a sound. It feels like a rush of wind, the sound of 10,000 crickets and other times a voice.
On this day the trees wanted my attention with their voice(s). Dangling my arms over the handlebars getting my breath back I was riveted by the awe of so many trees doing what trees do. At first glance it looks like nothing. Stay with it a little longer you begin to see–Trees being trees. With such large numbers you cannot help but pay attention.
It was in the silence that I heard them speak. A faint barely discernible voice at first. Staying with the silence a little longer, it wasn’t one voice, rather a collection of voices speaking in unison, “Look, we are being what we are meant to be no more and no less. Trees being trees. Witnessing. We help not harm. We build not destroy. We are one not separate. You can learn from that.”
There was a time in my life that had I heard a voice from a tree I would have most likely been tripping on some hallucinogens. Today was not the case, unless it was the dopamine coursing through my body from all that exercise.
What I heard that day was loud and clear. If you don’t understand you’re too far gone.