Not far from my home stands a hill that, when measured against other hills in the area, can be best described as being of modest proportions. The hill overlooks a green grassy covered meadow below and a small stream whose low banks sometimes surround more stones than water.
The hill rises up from the meadow with a gradually sloping and tapering side until ultimately forming a slightly rounded peak where one, just one, tree stands. Others may have once crowned the hill but now only a single tree remains.
I felt that once the trees gathered together on the hilltop to shelter each other from the cold winter wind. In the summer the leaves on their branches must have given shade from the hot sun. I wondered what happened to the other trees. Maybe some disease caused the other trees to die and this tree refused to succumb to the illness.
One day, in the early evening, I looked to the west as the late afternoon sun became low in the sky and saw the tree standing all alone on a hilltop silhouetted against the falling orange sun. It was then that I made the decision to climb to the top of the hill the following morning.
I climbed to the top of the hill for two reasons; to see how hard the traverse could be, and also to look at the landscape from the tree’s vantage point. I was neither sad nor happy. There was just a sense of calmness. I wanted to be as one with the tree.
To allow another living thing to be privy to that entities vision and thoughts and feelings is the greatest gift that can be given. But, the gift can only be understood and fully appreciated if the recipient opens their senses, mind and heart.
As I neared the crest of the hill, I was prepared to be engulfed with the sadness a lone living thing must feel, but that was not the case. Upon reaching the precipice, I looked out over the landscape below and found comfort and peace. It was as if I was privy to a magnificent view of the world only the lone tree and I could embrace.
The woods and grass-covered meadow below were so beautiful and tranquil. Only wondrous nature could create such an awe inspiring masterpiece. A slight warm breath of wind flowed across me and I could see a small stream as it left the woods while the water flowed away from sight leaving the far side of the meadow behind. The sun was bigger and more yellow than any sun I had seen before.
I could only begin to imagine the view of the night sky the tree must enjoy from atop the hill. I was certain the black and endless sky must be so dark that the stars most certainly have to appear brighter than any other points of light seen in any other night sky. The moon most assuredly would be larger than imaginable and I was convinced that a stone tossed from the hill would add another depression to the coarse face of the lunar body.
When days seem long and without end I dream of the tree on the hill. When days are darkened by clouds, the faint memories of warm sunlit afternoons turn the overcast skies to blue. I constantly remind myself that with the dying of each day comes the birth of a new one. Only the passing of hours and minutes throughout the life of that day can hint at the path my life may take, but I now realize I must look at life differently.
Just as I am different from every other living thing so are they different from me. I now understand my thoughts, beliefs and life itself are only mine, and not necessarily as wondrous as I once believed. I hope all of us can someday gain a better understanding of others, but that must come from viewing everything from another perspective. Our eyes see, but only the mind has true vision. Our ears hear, but only our hearts can listen.