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All about words



What lies beneath...

Posted by nancyfreund11 on October 26, 2016 at 7:15 AM

Writers know there are always two stories, at least -- one on the surface, and a more important one that lies deeper. Novels, short story, flash fiction, and even (especially!) poetry.  A quick reading reveals one thing, whereas a deeper, more careful and thorough review reveals much more. In English lit classes, they actually call that process of study “deep reading.” With a painting, a first look shows one thing, whereas a longer, more detailed examination reveals layers and nuance and again: depth.

People’s emotions are also described in terms of layers and depths. You’ve heard of a person compared to an onion? Peel back the layers, my hard-to-read friend! Remember 'Shrek' and Donkey’s layered “parfait?” You might choose to reveal only your shallow surface veneers to colleagues and casual contacts. But your true friends get to the heart of things with you – they see what’s at your core, your deepest center. I learned recently about the theory of layered negative emotions, how a person might exhibit an outer layer of anger when he’s hurting, but the deeper layer, if we ever get to it, might be fear -- expressing itself more readily as anger. And below that – hidden even deeper -- might be sadness. And even deeper than that – even more likely to be masked, whether consciously or unconsciously – might be loneliness. There is almost nothing more painful than the feeling of being utterly alone in the world, entirely unloved, maybe even unworthy of love. Lashing out in anger – a more surface emotion – is easier for everyone than expressing that deepest, most painful emotion.

An aside I want to explore sometime…. If loneliness is the deepest pain people experience, why then is solitude such sublime pleasure sometimes? And it may be no coincidence that a favorite type of solitude is being alone among trees.

But that’s a topic for another day. Today, thanks to my fabulous Portuguese cork-producer friend with an insatiable intellectual curiosity and desire to share, I learned about the connectivity and language of trees. Above, and more importantly below.  Leaves and branches and most of all, roots. Three cheers for biodiversity, relatedness of species, and natural collaboration. I’ve been reading a lot about the gut lately, the “what lies below” in the human body, and here too, it seems we need a little more nature and a lot less economic efficiency, fully processed foods, factory made meals. My nutritionist insists this makes sense, but we still don’t know the exact recipes – what minerals or nutrients our guts really need. And it sounds like we don’t yet know the exact blend of trees make the best biodiverse environments for our forests, while still making industry work. But it feels like we’re on the verge of some crucial discoveries.

As always, in my mind, with people, intestines, and trees, it comes back to diversity, tolerance, sharing, and courage. It comes back to the benefit of speaking one’s truth in whatever language one speaks it. Ultimately there will surely be a mushroom, or a genuine friend, nearby to respond.

Take a listen to Canadian Forest Ecologist, Suzanne Simard.


Categories: neuroscience & health, nature, mental health

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