This time of year — the perfect part of autumn before the infernal end of Daylight Savings Time — my long morning walk begins right at sunrise. When I walk out the door, I’ve done nothing other than wake up, brush my teeth, drink water, and sit in meditation for 30 minutes, so a sunrise walk sounds just right.
I live in a big city, so this walk is often not as tranquil as it sounds. There are already people driving like maniacs through residential neighborhoods to avoid mayhem on the main roads, and I’m dodging them left and right. Mainly, what I enjoy about these walks is the quality of the light — how the glow of sunrise makes human habitations and morning routines seem silly and holy at the same time. Today, though, I was struck by one particular vision. Today, I saw the tree.
This tree was literally highlighted by the sunrise, so I’m not some kind of genius naturalist for discovering its beauty. Still, I walk this same route every single morning, and this gnarly, stout, Western tree has always blended in with the neighborhood until today. This morning, the tree was practically singing with significance. It showed me what it looks like to thrive in the midst of the city.
To say this experience took place “in my mind” does not seem accurate. It took place on the street; every creature and car and garbage can in the area was involved. I saw a tree, a feeling arose, it stimulated a thought, I noticed the thought — that all happened in my mind. But what it all meant — why I thought it mattered enough to write about — was that the neighborhood is an ecosystem. Look around your neighborhood today. Is that how people are treating it?