Friday, October 24, 2014

Musings: Living Up to the Lives of Trees

Lainey Piland photo

A pile of sodden paper lay on the kitchen counter in front of me, unceremoniously dumped there after my quick dash out to the mailbox in the midst of a drenching autumn rain shower. After peeling off my dripping jacket and drying my hands, I turned my attention to the overwhelming pile of mail and tried to determine which item to deal with first.  My prodding fingers caused an envelope from Orion magazine, my absolute favorite publication, to surface to the top of the pile. We have a winner.

The letter was a request for donations, as the magazine is ad-free and relies entirely on donated funds to continue in print. I usually toss such things aside, but, as with everything else Orion produces, this letter was so compellingly written that I stood there damp and shivering at my kitchen counter and read the entire captivating thing - front and back. The last sentence of the first paragraph was the most utterly profound thing I've ever read in a letter asking for my monetary contribution: "...this particular magazine endeavors to live up to the lives of the trees it is printed on". 


Continuing toward the end of the letter: "... every cell of heartwood or sapwood that becomes part of Orion carries a word or image that we believe is worth it."

What an incredible ethic to incorporate into one's daily life, business, and thoughts.  Certainly not surprising coming from a nature-focused publication, but after reading this, I couldn't help but think how our world would be changed so much for the better if every individual adopted this mindset.

If we all internalized an utter respect and gratitude for our environment and natural resources, I think we would be much more careful with how we utilize them. The next time you grab a paper towel to clean up a mess; the next time you use a disposable coffee cup; the next time you read a book or magazine - stop and remember what these items are made of. Don't see these things as they are; instead, see them as they were. Think of that tree in its natural and unadulterated state. Are these products just as useful and necessary as the original tree from which they were made? How much more fulfilling, beautiful, inspiring - and less wasteful - the world would be if we were careful to only utilize consumer products with as high a purpose as their original forms.

Trees are pretty important. They sequester carbon. They provide shade. They turn carbon dioxide into breathable oxygen. They provide wildlife habitat. They absorb rainwater. They provide an unending source of awe and comfort. When they die, their nutrients feed a new generation or trees. Trees are important. And for a print publication to recognize this fact and endeavor to have the content printed on its pages live up to the importance of all those things listed above... simply beautiful. You know there will be no waste of trees or words there.

Now back to the rest of that mail pile. Credit card offers. Grocery store advertisements. Political fliers (if I find one more of these ridiculous things stuffed into my mailbox or the cracks of my front door, I give up. I'm not voting for anyone!). None of these things breathe life. None of them provide shade for a weary soul. None harbor awe or wonder. Future generations will not be inspired and nourished by them. When it comes to living up to the lives of the trees on which these mailings are printed, none of them even come close. However, I will grant that each did a smashing job of absorbing rainwater during my soggy dash back into the house.

With my new-found perspective, I glumly dropped these failures into the recycle bin, mourning the wasted lives of the trees which supplied their paper. Best of luck in your next incarnation, dear trees. Perhaps you'll be lucky enough to be recycled into the pages of a publication that appreciates you.

Lainey Piland photo

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