Living the life

imageThe Outsider, Washington, Connecticut © Steven Willard

Do trees have a sense of themselves? Are they sentient? Do they know where they are in the world? Do they have a soul?

When I saw this lone tree growing on the outside of the fence I asked myself if it felt left out, walled off from the trees on the other side of the fence, or did it feel free to be on the outside. Did the trees on the inside feel privileged by their inclusion, or tormented by the yearly ordeal of pruning? Which was the more fortunate, the trees on the inside, lovingly tended, fertilized and pruned, or the tree on the outside, left on it’s own to weather the storms, but free to grow tall and in any direction?

We all trade one thing for another. If we choose to live the social life, we are susceptible to the vagaries of social convention. We are  open to pressure from those around us even as we lean on one another for support. If we choose to go it alone, we are looked upon by those on the inside as misfits, unable to function in a civil society. Of the two the life of loner is probably the harder. Living life without the feeling of fellowship available to those on the inside, but not open to the hurt they can inflict.

Most of us exist someplace in between with a foot in both camps. We have seen what happens when either extreme is practiced. The person who can’t stand to be alone even for a few minutes; who spends every waking moment trying to maintain contact with as many people as possible, burning up the internet in search of more friends. Or the person who is so uncomfortable in the presence of others that he cuts himself off from all contact, living in isolation as much as possible, unwilling or unable to bend to any outside influence. Who’s to be envied? The person who is happy in the company of others yet comfortable in his own company.

Trees don’t have a choice. They pretty much have to stay where they have put their roots, living the life that was prescribed for them. I hope they can be content. Do trees have souls? I like to think they do.

Pentax K5IIs with 35mm f2.8 lens. Processed in Photoshop CS  and Nik Silver Efex Pro2, Snapseed and Stackables.





2 comments on “Living the life

  1. Joe says:

    Awesome image Steven 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A beautiful image and a very interesting essay. I see the message of individuality vs. conformity and wonder at the strangeness of this image of pruned trees so “dutiful” beside their poignant bundles, looking so distorted compared to the tall stranger outside the wall.

    Liked by 2 people

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