So I hear this big guy here has passed away in a very bad storm that hit the Calaveras Big Trees National Park on the 8th of January. My disorientation when I read the news was great. I was in denial for a few minutes.
The feeling of something so alive and so iconic of life not being there anymore is a hard one to accept.
The Pioneer Cabin Tree is tattooed in my memories like few other things. I remember all the feelings I felt when I saw it for the first time in 1999. I was a small child back then and that tunnel carved in such a majestic tree gave me the same feeling of awe that I would feel at Disneyland in seeing something incredible coming to life: it was so extraordinary.
I was truly impressed by that tunnel. Actually, I was impressed by the greatness of that tree, so big and strong to allow that passage without being affected. As if he grew with that hole already inside him.
Getting older, I realised he was effected indeed. Developing and strengthening my awareness towards nature and our impact on it, I started to think back to it in a different way.
When that passage was modelled into the trunk of that majestic sequoia tree, men were not really thinking about their impact on Planet Earth. Actually, all they wanted to prove was their capacity to control and model nature according to their will, do with it whatever they wanted to. They wanted to be the masters of the world.
What they did to that tree is just a tiny, supersmall, incredibly insignificant matter in comparison to how we treat nature nowadays. And yet, he paid the price almost 150 years later, when he just couldn’t take it anymore.
The Tunnel Tree taught us resilience by mastering it for all these years, not only despite the tunnel that took away part of his body and roots, but also despite the fire that partially destroyed it a few years earlier and the pollution that came afterwards during this one and a half century.
Now, on these sad days, he can teach us something else. Instead of using his death just to make headline news, we can use it to grow and build awareness. We can deepen our roots in our care for Planet Earth.
We are having a great impact on this beautiful world, which is not ours’ and that will crumble apart if we don’t stop treating it as such. A small tunnel can make a giant, centennial tree fall forever. What we are carving now is a tunnel straight through the heart and the breathing lungs of Earth.
Stopping and reversing this process is vital, in the most literal of meanings.
This majestic sequoia, that should be remembered for his incredible life and not just his scars, is also teaching us that we are all part of an ecosystem. He came from the soil and to the soil he will give back power, resources and nutrition. He doesn’t stop existing, he just changes the way he contributes to the planet’s well-being and strength.
We are not superior, nor we can exclude ourselves from this great circle. We must take our part again in the great scheme of nature. We must collaborate. We must respect and greet. Master our resilience to our greed and our fear and be willing to be small and humans.
We must become nature again. We must take action and we must do it now.