Monday, August 8, 2011
Lessons From the Rainforest
On Sunday we went for a drive to a place called Gardners Falls on the Obi Obi Creek, which is in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. At the far end of the creek is a deep pool, surrounded by high rock walls and fed by the largest of many small waterfalls dotted along the stream. There’s a rope swing, accessed by clambering up a very steep embankment and, in the summer months, the youngsters use it to launch themselves out above the water, plummeting down into the depths with shrieks of delight.
Despite the lovely, sunny day, there were no swimmers in the creek yesterday. We were content to walk along the pathway and enjoy the scenery; taking photos whenever something particularly caught our attention.
I stopped to admire the dense rainforest crowding in on the pathway and on the opposite bank of the creek. I saw the tallest trees standing strong and proud, reaching up towards the sunlight. But their intertwined branches created a canopy which effectively plunged the forest floor into semi darkness.
Now, of course, the myriad of smaller vegetation that lives on that forest floor is also in need of the sunlight to flourish. There is no way for them to compete with the big guys, so they find their own ingenious ways of getting what they need.
I saw trees growing sideways. They were so bent over that the tips of their branches brushed the ground, but it was ground dappled with sunlight. They will never stand tall and proud. They are spindly and gnarled and deformed, yet they live, which was their only objective. Unlike us these trees won’t ever be concerned with body image; won’t ever feel ashamed that they aren’t as tall and as smooth trunked as their forest mates.
I saw a vine which had grown down from a very tall tree. It had managed to slither across the sharp rocks, across the pathway, and over the bank of the creek and now it could finally dip it’s tendrils into the cool water. How did it know to do that? How long must it have taken for it to grow far enough to reach the water? But unlike we humans, the vine didn’t waste time envying other vines for which the basic necessities in life seem much more readily available. It just got on with the arduous journey to the water.
And then there was the tree which had toppled over and lay prone on the sloping ground. The soil had been eroded away from its root system until there was nothing to hold it in place, and so it fell. Part of its root ball was mercilessly exposed to the drying sun. The tree might have been down but it certainly wasn’t out. Even from its prone position, the trunk was sending up new shoots, new branches bearing tiny flower buds. Trees don’t have pity parties - don’t get hung up concentrating on handicaps; on coming up with reasons as to why they can’t do things. If there is any life left at all, then they will live it to the fullest.
The world is a tough place and we can’t all be the big guys soaking up the lion’s share of the sunlight. Sometimes we might have to work a bit harder, or try a different approach. Sometimes it might even seem as if we have completely lost our footing and fallen in a heap. But even if we can’t readily get back up again, we can find a way to carry on from where we are.
©Lyn Murphy 2011