Aging, Life, and Tree Rings
You may think or hope I’m joking, but nope we’re talking about tree rings today.
So, before you click away I encourage you to read just a few paragraphs more. For those of you who may not know these rings are how we measure a trees age. Every year it grows a little, forming another ring. The story of a lifetime is left behind in these rings; how old the tree is, what years it faced drought or frost, what years it enjoyed bountiful growth.
Though the tree’s appearance might change over time from a sapling to a massive oak, the tree rings tell us the rest of the story. Often people consider growth as system of replacing the older, smaller, weaker version with one newer, bigger, and stronger. And yet in every mighty oak there remains the rings that once comprised a sapling.
Without that core, without any of the successive periods of growth, the oak as we see it today could not exist.
Society often misrepresents growth as something segmented. Age 0-10 you are a child, 10-20 you are an adolescent, 20-60 you are an adult, 60+ you are old. When in fact every adult has within them their childhood, their memories and experiences. Every Elder has within them the growth rings from all stages of life.
But these experiences are not static like tree rings. Each new phase of growth shaped by the many experiences that come before.
In this sense titles like Elder, child, or adult are misleading. An Elder is someone who counts all of their growth rings not just the ones at the end.