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Suburban Tree Dialog 1 (Introduction)

I have been running the same trail for several years. Each run takes me past a tree that I have always found to be particularly attractive. Over time I have crafted my runs so I either stretch or drink water in the presence of this tree. Looking up at this tree from my point of view through the lens of a camera this is what I see. . I have started to talk with this tree as I run and now I am going to begin to write out this dialog. It may seem a strange idea at first but there is a method to my madness. On the level of philosophy I view all things as being formed by boundaries that are semi-permeable. The relations of things are then comprised of how they touch each other and pass some material and information across their boundaries. The parts of object contact that don't pass across a boundary are also important to the touch relationship between objects. On the level of my own consciousness I have worked with Jungian dream work and active imagination where dialog between various things in a dream or in a period of active imagination. This has been a very productive way for me to discover things about parts of myself and find relationships between things of which I was not fully aware. Putting the philosophical and psychological streams of thought together in a thought experiment to see what comes of an active imagination dialog with a tree is what I intend to explore in this first discussion. 

Let the talking begin.

Me: Hello tree, I don't know how to address you in a way that is specific to you, people have names and introduce themselves as their particular unique self. Do you have a name?

Tree: No

Me: Do you want a name we can use when we talk

Tree: It's not important.

Me: OK. I wanted to start writing down what we have been talking about. Let me start by saying I like you and I am interested in the relationship between people and plants. You are a big beautiful plant and I want to explore how we are related.

Tree: I have many people, lots of your kind move on the trail.

Me: I sometimes think of you as my tree

Tree: your kind don''t have other creatures. We have talked about this before. I have squirrels, and birds that live in me, they are mine. You don''t have any others living in you. You are like the other fliers and runners, you are mine, at least a little, when you run by and talk to me, or touch me.

Me: That was one of the things I liked learning from you on one of our talks. I told you that the owner of the house next to you must think that you are his or her tree because they bought the house and the property on which you live.

Tree: That''s ridiculous!

Me: Don''t the others who are yours think of you as theirs?

Tree: I don''t know. They live in me, visiting often, I have things they need and they use what I have. I enjoy their touch, they spread my seeds and I like that, we help each other get what we need. Does that mean they own me? I don''t understand.

Me: Humans communicate in many ways but the one that seems most important is that we use language. We make noises that we all agree have cretin meanings. When I say tree that means all things that look like you. I, me, and mine are words that people use to refer to themselves. When we put a series of words together in a particular way we call it a sentence and the sentence means more than just each word standing alone, it takes on a meaning all its own from the combination and order of the words. There is also a lot of meaning in how we say our words. I is a word humans use to indicate that what they are going to say next comes from them or resides in them, "I feel", "I think", "I wonder", "I don''t like", "I adore". When people say me it is usually to in reference to something happening to the person like, "when he said that to me", "I didn''t think that would ever happen to me". My, and mine are words we use when we are indicating we have something a thing that we own, "that car is mine", "that is my car", or "that is my tree". My and mine are most primitively related to objects a person can eat or use whenever they want. My daughter is 2 years old and she uses these words a lot. The word seems to have an I can incorporate this thing into my boundary and no one else can take it out of my boundary unless I allow that to happen. This possessive idea isn''t unique to humans, you can see animals do this with their actions, sounds and body language around their food and the space around them. Humans do the same thing but we have words for indicating possession.

Getting back to the idea of ownership, the person who bought the house and land inside the fence that borders their yard owns that property. That means no other human can take it away from the owner. Within legal limits, it also means the owner can do what they want with the property they own. From the human social point of view, the owner of the soil in which your roots exist could decide he or she does not you around anymore and they could cut you down.

Tree: They are not strong enough to remove me from my place. I have lived here for a long time. I am large. I could fit 100''s of your kind under my branches. I do not want to be removed, I would die. My land and I are one, I can not be separated from my land.

Me: It''s true that a human is no match for a tree your size but humans have made things that we call tools that make us able to do things our bodies alone could not do. Humans would use their tools to cut you into little pieces and then they would dig your roots out of the ground, you would be no more.

Tree: Why would they do that, they live in me?

Me: That is a very good question. I think you have asked the question of our times.

Tree: Well what's your answer?

Me: I think that most people do not know that they live in you, that you were here first, that we depend on you.

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