Aging, Life, and Tree Rings

March 19, 2014
Virgil Thomas, ChangingAging.org


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.

21 Comments. Leave new

Ann Ball liked this on Facebook.

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Embracing our tree rings! Another thoughtful perspective on aging from the Eden Alternative …… http://t.co/pKDgNrKG54

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Cathy Unsino
March 21, 2014 2:47 pm

Yesterday and today fifty year old oaks are being butchered in Manhattan. Our fingers trace each year lived, years that nurtured people of all ages, years where birds made their nests and squirrels played. This slaughter will make this spring and all to follow silent where formerly bird song delighted the children in the school next door and thousands of people who live all around. The men with chain saws come from the “Friendly Tree Service” so that a 20-story nursing home might be built that would confine people in households with 11 other elderly and ill people for the rest of their lives. Unlike the trees whose death is swift, after all their years, theirs will be a slower death of spirit because no one of any age can live well – confined with no escape, with nothing meaningful to do – and without trees and birdsong.

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#Aging, Life, and Tree Rings http://t.co/ZwrKHMuxVW via @edenalt #LTC

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rosemary weston
March 31, 2014 11:03 pm

cathy, that sounds so sad and such a waste. our lives should be a continuim. we are all shaped by our past and should be able to use all those past years in our todays and tomorrows as we are still able…part of a forrest of trees of different ages. we should be part of a community like the forrest.

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