Mindfulness Meditation
    • Learning how our mind creates our world

Thanks, Lovely Ash Tree

by on 31 July

When we lost our Ash tree two years ago, I felt a great loss. But after some reflection, the feeling turned to gratitude.


We’ve lived in our house for 35 years. When we moved in, there was a 30-foot ash tree in the front yard. It eventually grew to twice that size and half again as wide. It was beautiful and provided wonderful shade for the grass and garden. In the morning, we’d hear birds chirping and see squirrels chasing through the branches. In December, we’d string coloured lights on it. We built a platform on the lowest big branch, with steps nailed into the trunk, where our two kids played “fort”. It provided our family with so many gifts.

And then, the Emerald Ash Bore disease expanding through Ottawa hit our beauty. We spent hundreds of dollars each summer on preventative injections. But after several years, city staff painted a red circle on the trunk and told us they’d take it down in the winter.

Since it was a City tree, the citizens of Ottawa would pay to remove it, drill out the stump, and replace it with a new tree. That would help reduce our loss. But, once the tree had been taken down, I began to feel hard done by. What a loss of all these wonderful “services” it provided. “Why us?”, I asked.

And then, one day, it hit me. This was just the way of mother nature, the way of all life. Absolutely everything in and around us changes eventually. The Cosmos evolves. The planet Earth follows a slightly changing pattern. The climate changes. Seasons come and go, as does the weather. Plants and animals - including humans - are born and die. Our roles, jobs and relationships evolve. Our bodies, moods and thoughts constantly change. This is reality playing out. To resist inevitable change is to make oneself unhappy.

I also realized that, when we lose something important in life, we regret the change because we’ve lost something special. Two sides of a coin. Night and day. Ying and yang. If we never experience an important loss, it means we never experienced something important in our life. That’s why, I think, sadness is a very complicated and “rich” emotion to experience.

And, so, I turned my reflections toward the gorgeous tree that had been taken away, and our thirty years of enjoyment. I gave thanks that the City, when the house was built twenty years before we arrived, had purchased and planted the Ash tree. And, gave thanks that the tree had thrived for thirty years so that we could enjoy its benefits for so long. I felt not “hard done by”, but grateful for the beauty and enjoyment the tree had given us.
And, quite naturally, my mind started to turn to the future with curiousity. What would this new Red Maple we selected look like? Where, exactly, should we plant it?

When it was planted, during a very hot summer, we made sure to water it well every few days. And, when a Robin began to bring twigs to it, we watched the nest get built not 8 feet off the ground, up close. And, marvelled at the tiny babies all summer.

And, the take-away from this experience? If you want to avoid “heartache” in life, be on the lookout for change and totally expect to eventually “lose” stuff, lose a job, a relationship, personal capabilities, and friends and family. That’s what reality is. And, the flip side of this coin - very importantly - is to savour every good experience in life because it is only temporary. That way, we’ll optimize our happiness in this one chance at life. Working with reality instead of fighting it - using our wisdom to lead a happier life.

So, thanks lovely Ash Tree. You were great while you lasted.

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