Contrary to how this photo may appear, it is not the creepy, boney hand of a ferocious monster. It is the remains of the most unusual tree stump I’ve ever observed. Interestingly, the only unrotten portions are the inner core of the branches that were within the trunk. The parts that resemble heads of nails are where the branches were cut long ago, flush with the trunk.
Of course, this piqued my curiosity. I wondered why these specific parts within the trunk lasted longer. Then, I pondered about the flow of nutrients within a live tree. This concolor fir would have been drawing water and minerals from deep within the soil through its roots. The needles on the branches would have been photosynthesizing the solar energy as well as utilizing the carbon dioxide from the air. These inner branches were energetic pathways between the roots and needles, distributing benefits to all parts of the tree. As this symbiotic relationship helped all parts of the tree, perhaps that is why these particular parts were stronger and more enduring. The unbranched sections of the trunk itself probably didn’t feed the rest of the tree. Perhaps that portion not being as critical was weaker, so it rotted earlier. The parts where the energy flowed were most vital, lasting and protected. Those boney looking appendages were actually the highways of giving, taking and sharing.
The workings of symbiotic relationships intrigue me. Where might these sorts of connections occur in society? One such example came to me regarding late night talk shows. Prior to the pandemic squelching large crowds, audiences were able to provide immediate feedback to the host’s stories and one liners. The speaker would then catch that spark of laughter, applause and enjoyment. The audience appreciation would in turn give the entertainer more encouragement which enhanced the presentation, contributing to a cycle of sharing energies. When the hosts first began performing to a mere camera, they felt severed from their audience, from the source of their joie de vie or joy of life. Finally, some of the hosts are regaining the vigor they once enjoyed in the symbiotic relationship.
Another example might be in the education field. I feel I became a far better teacher once I realized it was perfectly possible for me to learn from my students. Of course, we think of students learning from the teacher, but the converse can also be true. Experiencing this can be quite humbling as well as fulfilling for the teacher and extremely validating and encouraging for the students. This also would be symbiotic.
Both my entertainment and education examples illustrate a two way flow of energy, mutually benefiting various parties. This flow strengthens the bonds and leads to long lasting value.
Our world is in the flux of change. Where might symbiotic relationships take us further, not only within the education and entertainment fields, but also other areas such as economics, leadership, health or religion? Where might a symbiotic model be of benefit? Dare I ask, would it look like love?