If you’re fortunate enough to have visited a grove of aspen trees in autumn, the sight remains with you for a lifetime. The trees are an explosion of yellow, whispering as the wind blows through their leaves.
Last fall, we ventured out again to visit the aspens and meditate on their beauty. As we watched the trees dancing and swaying, something resonated inside me. I realized that they were more than examples of beauty. They also hold lessons for strengthening our relationships and life, helping us learn about supporting each other, being rooted, and rebirth.
A lesson in weathering the storm/standing together
Most look at trees individually. After all, that’s how most of us view ourselves. We might view one from afar, walk up, sit underneath a favorite tree, and consider only what we see towering above us.
Many of us overlook the community of an aspen grove. Aspens aren’t lone wolves like other trees. They grow together in groups, and their collective survival depends on the trees closest to them.
Unlike many other trees, aspens aren’t especially strong on their own. A lone aspen tree could not withstand a strong winter gale in many climates where aspens thrive.
But two aspens, standing together, can weather the storm.
As nature throws its worst at the trees, their survival comes from their connection and support of each other.
We learn a bit about the necessity of community when considering the aspen tree. When we stand alone, we fight against our own survival as a couple or individually.
A lesson in staying rooted
Trees have always captivated humans. Their incredible heights inspire us to think of reaching for the heavens. Rarely do we think about the secret world underneath the surface that powers all we see.
Aspens are a prime example. One aspen tree is, in fact, considered to be part of a much larger, singular organism. Under the surface, they’re a community connected by an expansive root system. They use this root system to share lifesaving support and connection.
The largest of these connected root structures, the Pando, is considered the heaviest organism on earth. Weighing more than everyone who attended the super bowl last year, this one root structure is responsible for almost 50,000 trees that stretch across 100 acres.
The deeper an aspen grove’s roots grow, the stronger all the trees become. Their deep roots allow the trees to survive the harshest trials. Even when an aspen tree “dies,” its roots survive and continue growing beneath the surface, awaiting the right opportunity to bloom again.
Over time, their root structure grows to the point where a grove of aspens is nearly impossible to eradicate.
They teach us the core of why we need deep roots to thrive in an intimate connection. Relationship success comes from a support structure and unbreakable communication. We, too, flourish and thrive when deeply rooted together upon a solid foundation of safety and trust. Only then can we withstand outer temptations and destructive forces.
A lesson in rebuilding
I love aspens in autumn (if it’s not abundantly apparent by now). The shift of colors signifies the changing of seasons and is a beautiful sight to behold. But, while we tend to focus on one season of their life cycles, aspen trees are growing all year – even in winter.
And because these trees are built for constant growth, they can immediately spring back and find life after disaster.
While surrounding vegetation will die off after a fire, aspen trees will thrive. In most parts of the country, regular fires are necessary for the well-being of aspen trees.
Over the centuries, these trees have come to embrace the ups and downs of life on earth. Viewed over the long term, they understand that destruction is as regular as the changing of the seasons. Their deep root structure and constant growth allow them to grow to new strength after a tragedy.
The wisdom of the aspen urges us to see risks as opportunities. Tragedies and destruction are terrible, and it would be great if we could avoid them throughout our lives. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to avoid the bad in life. But by deeply rooting ourselves and equipping ourselves for constant growth, we can better embrace tragedies as opportunities for new growth.
Take a longer view
Aspen trees welcome hardship and unpredictability. In fact, they often cannot survive without some form of adversity that would wipe out most other species. This survivability is hard-coded into their DNA from their experiences over thousands of years.
As humans, we might not have these same lessons hardwired into ourselves. But, unlike plants, we can adapt and learn on the fly.
We can learn lessons from what we observe in the world to build and strengthen our relationship foundations as we go through life. The almost supernatural beauty of an aspen grove inspires us, but meditating on what allows that beauty to thrive teaches us lessons for ourselves and our relationships.
We also benefit from direct help and support from others around us. You never have to weather life’s storm alone. Like the aspen, we are meant to enjoy life, deeply connected by an extensive root structure. Life can distract us from this, but it’s good to be reminded of our need for connection.
If you feel your relationship’s roots could use some strengthening or support, please contact us today.