Nature teaches us many things if we are prepared to stop and listen. It only takes a moment to quietly observe the lesson she would like to provide if we are willing. Consider the tree for example – tall, majestic, sturdy. We begin with the roots, the very foundations of which the tree stands. They hold its body firmly in the ground and allow absorption of nutrients from the very earth from which it resides. What can the writer learn from the tree?
The roots are the beginning of the story.
Though they may be hidden beneath the surface, these are quite possibly one of the most important features of storytelling. Perhaps the reader must dig a little to unearth these roots. What is the message of the story? How did the writer lay the foundation for what they wanted to say? The roots hold the tale firmly in place and act as the heart of the message. Whatever happens to the tree, the roots remain fixed in the earth.
When I was seven years old, I climbed a tree. There was certain sense of liberation in ascending those moss-ridden branches and looking out at the surrounding landscape. As I climbed higher, the branches swayed left to right with the summer breeze. I remember feeling slightly fearful that I would fall from the arms of the great trunk, and the very thought of it created a sensation that made my legs tremble with weakness. However, I was determined to see what kind of view the tree would offer from the very top.
And so I climbed.
The branches creaked and groaned under my weight and as I progressed, the swaying of the tree grew more dramatic and pronounced. I felt like a pirate making his way to the lookout in the heart of a storm, telescope strapped around my neck, ready and willing to perform my important duty. I looked only upwards – the sky beckoned me, a glorious sun beamed through thin-stretched clouds, tempting me like a luminous plump peach with lashings of ice cream. I had almost reached the pinnacle when I misjudged where the next branch was. I grasped only a handful of air and as my body weight shifted, I fell to the earth. In those few moments in which she released her grip on me, the branches I had climbed earlier passed me by like swift flash-card reminders of my small achievement. And as I landed, I sensed an incredible pain as the rear of my skull made contact with an old disused glass milk bottle – an inconsiderate offering from a passer-by. It would not be for a few a years later that I would appreciate the message that this very tree had taught me.
The appearance of roots are also reminiscent of exposed disemboweled entrails. An expression of externalising the internal, if you will. They reach and stretch like skeleton fingers as though looking for a new destination and I am brought back to the lesson of the story. How it meanders and reaches to perhaps create something new or find a fresh home. The story gives the writer an opportunity to release something from inside of themselves and yet this may not be something wholly visible to the reader. Not at first. The act of exposing the entrails may be both a conscious or subconscious process however it endeavours to serve a dual purpose. One of which allows the writer to ‘disembowel‘ a construct or an idea that may have been residing within themselves. Secondly to provide the reader an outlet or an insight into a part of themselves that they had yet to encounter. We tend not to recognise the importance of stories but they are the roots – the very foundations for which we live our lives.