If you’re like the team here at Inman Park Tree Watch, you have moments these days when you think, “Help! Where can I go to take a break from this insanity?”
Well, here’s what we do: we open the front door and walk outside.
As urban neighborhoods go, Inman Park is about as beautiful as it gets. Sure, we don’t have snow-capped mountains on the horizon or a harbor where sunlight dances on the water.
Inman Park’s beauty may not be as spectacular, but the connection we have with the source of that beauty is closer and stronger. Why? Because in evolutionary terms, we “grew up” together, as it were. Trees and humans? BFFs.
Which means that when we need to calm down, when we need a pat on the back, when we need someone or something to talk us off the ledge, all we have to do is open the door and walk outside!
Roger Ulrich is just one of many scientists who have researched the stress-reducing effects of nature:
He has found that people who view nature after stressful situations show reduced physiological stress response, as well as better interest and attention and decreased feelings of fear and anger or aggression. An interesting effect found in recent studies on driving and road stress is called the “immunization effect” — the degree of negative response to a stressful experience is less if a view of nature preceded the stressful situation.
Putting aside the unconscious ways in which we respond and react to those tall, leafy-green giants standing all over Inman Park, here’s a trick we sometimes use to put the latest outrage in perspective.
The oldest known single tree is a bristlecone pine nicknamed Methuselah.¹ It’s 4,848 years old. That means it sprang up out of the dirt in what is now California in c. 2830 B.C. That also means its lifetime encompasses these events:
- Construction of the pyramids and Stonehenge.
- Drafting of the world’s earliest codes of law.
- Moses leads his people out of Egypt.
- We humans figure out how to make glass.
- Extinction of the wooly mammoth.
- Devising of the Greek alphabet and composition of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.
And so forth and so on, not excluding catastrophes such as the Black Death, climate-altering volcanic eruptions, too many wars to count, etc.
So our suggestion to you all is this: take trees as your model. They don’t get hot and bothered by anything. Slow, steady, enduring. Sound good? Yeah, for us, too.
¹ Methuselah’s age is just a fraction of the age of oldest living organism in the world. In Utah, a colony of quaking aspens is thought to be 80,000 years old. That is, the root system has been producing new aspen trees for 80 millennia. It’s also thought to be the heaviest organism on Earth.