Amongst Miracle Beings
The word ‘miracle’ is nowadays somewhat overused, while everyday miracles tend to be overlooked. Such as the creation of life. How many times a day do you think about what we are made of? We are physically built of organic materials that plants create using the four primary elements; earth, water, air (carbon dioxide) and fire (light). What plants had produced are used by all other beings to construct their own bodies.
There are a few types of bacteria on obscure places that thrive by different processes called chemosynthesis. But the biomass you see around you, the trees in the forest, the grasses of the prairie have all been created by this miracle. All the beings that crawl, walk, or run on the ground, swim in the water or fly in the air are provided for by the workforce of life, plants.
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Plants have been having a hard time and they asked me to plead for them.
Now you’re thinking that I’m joking or simply nuts. The latter one is for others to decide but I’ll tell you a secret. When I was a kid I spent years sitting on trees. Not whole years in one go but for years spent a considerable time on walnut, cherry and other trees, right from the age I learned to climb. After having sat in their aura for summers on end, I developed the serious delusion that I can kind of intuit what they feel. Of course, when I’ll have the time I will search out a licensed therapist, swallow my antipsychotics and be well.
Making inferences based on feelings is of course not valid. And anyway: what do you mean by plants having emotions? But it’s not only plants; even unicellular organisms have them. Just look at the beings of the Microcosmos: they scatter away like shy mice, explore with curiosity, like a ferret, they even make love. I do not think this is anthropomorphising; we are the ones that developed from these ancient orientations. The little creatures have been around for longer. The roots of our basic emotions are present in microorganisms as we can realize with some empathy.
The quality of plants’ feelings, however, must be different from ours. It is unlikely that a plant would experience our kind of pain when being bitten. Since they cannot escape, this would not have an evolutionary advantage. Yet your bud being chewed off is not likely to be very joyful. When a giraffe starts nibbling at their branches, some African trees produce bitter materials, making the pedator leave. Yes, from the point of view of plants, giraffes are predators. Some plants even use odour messages to warn their neighbors (usually relatives) so they can start synthetising poisonous substances that drive away the monster.
Plants are not as individualistic as us. This is a plant:
This 80 hectare aspen grove (named Pando) consists of clones of the same individual. As if every person in a village would be John Smith. (Replace John Smith with your name.) Would it be good? Another thing that wouldn’t work with you is cutting off your finger, so that three new ones could grow in its place while your finger planted into the earth would develop into a new you. Plants are more fexible in terms of bodies and individuality.
So for plants, possibly, individual life is not quite as important. It is not easy to put ouselves in the position of so different a creature so this is only conjecture. Their awareness could be more connected, more fluid, at least than that of modern humans. Australian Aboriginees are another matter, but telepathy is a topic for another day.
So right now this common plant mind seems to say that if we want to continue living on this planet, we need to pay more attention to plantness. If you look at a map of the ancient civilizations in the Old World, you see that most of them are replaced by deserts. Of couse, we learned in school that deserts are created by descending air currents. Some areas are more prone to desertification than others. But it would be hard to affirm with a straight face that civilisation is not a significant factor in the creation of deserts. Maps supposedly depicting tropical forest belts are not showing the actual forests, but the area where those forests were before European colonization. And right now plant cover is not just diminishing a bit here and there. Plants are being exterminated on the entire planet. This is too much even for them, that’s why they are asking for our help.
When we are thinking of plants, we are thinking of flowers, trees and broccoli. Most of Earth’s biomass and oxygen is actually produced by microscopic blue algae that live in the plankton. Their modified descendants, cloroplasts continue the job inside plant cells. Once upon a time in the primordial ocean a cell gulped down a photosynthesising cyanobacterium, then decided not to eat the goose that lays golden eggs. The two parts merged, the bacterium becoming a chloroplast, an organelle of the cell, providing it with energy. The first plant cell was born.
When you are about to put your tomatoes (or rather, things that somewhat resemble tomatoes) into a new plastic bag in a supermarket, think of the plastic continent in the Pacific Ocean. You have the choice of bringing a reused bag with you - all the billions of algae in the plankton will clap and the tortoises will smile appreciatingly. Buying tomatoes from a farmer is, of course the real deal, right into a nice woven basket. They might actually have a taste. Yummy - say all the ocean creatures that will have an alga meal thanks to you.
We are at a stage of beginning to recognize some rights of our feathered or hairy brothers, animals. Although medical experiments and meat factories still function as torture chambers, pets at least are getting better treatment. There is yet not much talk about plants’ rights. Is it time to realize that they are the most important creatures on this planet?
The truth is that plants could thrive without us. Fungi are needed for decomposing, but animals, that, strictly speaking, are all predators, a world could do without. An ecology of plants and fungi would work quite well.
Some of us have since been solicited to actually perform a useful function. Since these freeloading munchers are around - thought the plants - why not make use of them? Thus they developed several kinds of bait, one of which is flowers. Flowers, with their colours and odours are meant to attract insects, or sometimes bats or birds. “I’ll give you sugar!”, the plant says. “If you carry my gametes” , she murmurs to herself. Fruits are another kind of bait. “Here’s lunch!” (As long as you carry my seeds far and wide.)
The three kinds of organisms could be correlated with the three main gods of Hinduism: plants are Brahma, the creator, animals are Vishnu, the maintainer, while fungi are Shiva, the destroyer. It is notable that while Vishnu and Shiva have a huge following, Brahma is not revered in the same manner. There are very few temples dedicated to Brahma. Could this be the time for greater respect for plantness?
The natural vegetation in most of Europe is forest. This is the most stable ecosystem supporting the greatest biomass. Some of us in Eastern Europe were quite excited about joining the European Union for its better nature protection laws. What happened was that agricultural subsidies caused destruction. People cut self-regenerating young forests with chain saws en masse so they would fit into pasture category. You have to give it to EU bureaucrats that the categories were later refined, allowing for some trees on those lands.
Planting trees is an experience so satisfying that you should have some part of it. When world news are not great and you are thinking of what you could do for a better future, here’s a possibility. Trees produce oxygen, neutralize dust, get rid off CO2, make the air more humid. Trees absorb noise, give shade, nesting places for birds, acorns for squirrels, fruit for you. By planting trees you also become a builder of a positive future which makes you feel good raising your self-esteem and boosting your immune system.
According to permaculture experts trees are best propagated by seed, as this gives the strongest roots. Roots are radically important for trees. We tend to think of a tree consisting of a trunk, branches, and leaves. Actually, a tree looks more like this:
In a similar fashion to sea and continents, this reflects the relationship of our conscious and unconscious mind. The latter is greater, deeper, more significant, and merits more attention.
As to the real trees, when planting them, native species are best. And providing for the saplings might be even more important than placing them into the ground. You might even consider adopting a few city trees near your home, watering them in the Saharan heat. With my own water?, you say. Well, this is your own planet. If you take decisions that’ll make this wonderful place livable in the long term, it’ll be livable. It’s good to know you’re not alone.
This is just a suggestion that can germinate at the right time. You can also sow some suggestions, to your neighbour to leave the ash seedling in the back yard, or the local government to plant a row of trees by the dusty road to the factory. And, every time you look at plants, you can be full of amazement, realizing that we live amongst magical beings. You might even tune in to their inner essence, gradually discovering the depth of their awareness. It will be hard to put in words, but you’ll be having an experience most people cannot even imagine.
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