Trees

Manjula wished to be reincarnated as a tree. She wanted to provide cover and and support to people. To me it reflected her strength and gentleness.

The Pongamia tree that Manjula wanted to be, as is the one outside our house.

I was reminded of this after reading a recent brain picking, with reference to a letter from D H Lawrence reflecting his love for trees.

“To walk among trees is to be reminded that although relationships weave the fabric of life, one can only be in relationship — in a forest or a family or a friendship — when firmly planted in the sovereignty of one’s own being, when resolutely reaching for one’s own light.”

That’s so my Manjula. It’s a lesson she leaves me with. As she now waits for me to lift myself from my bed of lethargy and act.

A century ago, Hermann Hesse contemplated how trees model for us this foundation of integrity in his staggeringly beautiful love letter to trees — how they stand lonesome-looking even in a forest, yet “not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche.” Celebrating them as “the most penetrating preachers,” he reverenced the silent fortitude with which “they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves.”

again I’m so reminded of MAnjula, her own strength, independence and gentle kindness.

A Manjula plaque fixed to our tree on her birthday.

“A supreme challenge of human life is reconciling the longing to fulfill ourselves in union, in partnership, in love, with the urgency of fulfilling ourselves according to our own solitary and sovereign laws. Writing at the same time as Hesse, living in exile in the mountains, having barely survived an attack of the deadly Spanish Flu that claimed tens of millions of lives, the polymathic creative force D.H. Lawrence (September 11, 1885–March 2, 1930) took up the question of this divergent longing with great subtlety and splendor of insight in his autobiographically tinted novel Aaron’s Rod (free ebook | public library), rooting the plot’s climactic relationship resolution in a stunning passage about trees.”


The fact is I’m able to find references to Manjula anywhere and everywhere. “A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.”

– Amelia Earhart

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