The Shimmering of Trees

I spend a lot of time looking at trees, and especially love seeing and hearing their leaves flutter in the breeze. Seeing the leaves fluttering makes me think about the underlying energy of it all, of us all – they shimmer in the light with the grace and flow of whatever makes all life flourish and grow.

Once while watching leaves in the park, I thought:

The waving leaves are applauding us for stopping to notice how beautiful they are!

Today it’s very hot in Madrid. My wife and I went driving around new neighbourhoods to see if any of them appealed to us for a house move we have pending. After an hour of stopping and starting, and driving around in circles with the air-con on, I was hot, slightly car-sick, and grumpy.

We pulled over in the shade and started bickering a bit about the whole move thing. I saw this was largely my fault for letting grumpiness set in, and that our whole day (a trip planned up to the hills later with our son) was in jeaopardy, so I got out of the car. And found myself staring across the road at some trees, just watching their fluttering leaves shimmering in the sunlight.

And I felt instantly connected to the present moment, and saw how in the right-here and the right-now, bickering, house moves, doubts, negativity, troubles, woes – none of them matter at a very deep level. They fade away in the absolute timelessness of the present moment, where there is just light, and the shimmering of the trees.

So I got back in the car and apologised. Soon we found out all sort of other things that had been making us both a bit grumpy – the recent death of my wife’s uncle that we still haven’t had time to process properly and let settle. And we left the car and checked out another few streets on foot, and drove up to the hills later with our son and had an incredible day, walking through sierra woodland, beneath more shimmering trees.

6 thoughts on “The Shimmering of Trees

  1. May God bless you Ben. I have been greatly appreciating your Being Happiness posts for some time now. I feel I got to know you through your Spanish language podcast. I miss them. Julius


      1. Leaves are magical. As thousands of them flutter on branches they become one wave, a single field. They rise and fall together, rustle and create patterns of light. They remind us of the energy in the air itself. They change colors, become brittle, fall to the ground and become earth. Then one afternoon you are walking, worrying about this and that, and you hear a familiar whisper; you look up into a wave of color and light and think, was it ever gone?


  2. Hi Ben,

    My name is Lee and I live in Charleston, South Carolina, U.S. I was first “introduced” to you through your Notes in Spanish podcasts (which I started listening to after I failed to receive a high enough qualifying score on a Spanish interpreter exam and decided to hone my listening skills!) Through visiting the NIS website, I stumbled upon your Being Happiness blog. Thematically, it is eerily similar to an informal blog (rather, a bi-weekly email to a large group of friends and acquaintances) in which I regularly write. I started my “Zen Path” in earnest about 5 years ago, and began to write my musings two years ago. I will paste one below that complements what you have written in this entry…You have a tremendous gift as a writer. Best wishes to you on your Path…

    Impervious, Not Oblivious

    Last week, my friend and I had a discussion during which we decided that we would give anything to be oblivious—even if just for a day. We were mentally and energetically drained from all of the processing and self-analyzing that we had been doing to understand a recent series of frustrating incidences in our lives; we figured that it would be blissful to not have the constant—albeit self-imposed—burden of the need for perpetual deep thinking.

    The “curse” of the seeker of self-knowledge is that from every thought, emotion, and action, a deeper meaning must always be discerned. We rarely interpret events (however simple) at face value—we assign a rationale and purpose to most of our quotidian interactions—a task that can be exhausting even on the best of days.

    However, as I pondered the potential reality of oblivion, I felt depleted rather than ebullient after I considered all of the daily observations that I would have missed were I in a state of disconnect.
    Do we truly wish to avoid conflict, or could there be a more productive form of escapism?

    Rather than fleeing the “turbulence” around us, we can learn to become impermeable to it. The ultimate freedom is rising above the cluttered mind and realizing that it is not YOU—that your core essence is perpetually serene.

    Whenever I am rendered unbalanced—physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually—by life events, I visualize myself in a hot air balloon rising from the ground and being tossed by the wind (i.e. my current egoic worries) as I approach the clouds. But as the balloon transcends the cloud bank (i.e. the ego mind), I reach a space of calm, yet I can also gaze downward and view the chaos below me. In this or any other tranquil place that we can conceive, we are able to maintain a connectedness to the world, yet remain unperturbed by outer events; we become a conscious (not oblivious!) observer and are impervious to the whims of the ego.

    This week, I challenge you to create a visualization to invite stillness into your realm…and experience the serenity that ensues when you become your own detached observer.


    1. Hi Lee,

      Thanks for your kind comment, and I really love your piece of writing – the idea of the hot air balloon is wonderful. It reminds me of another one I’m learning to use at the moment about an ‘island inside’ where we can take refuge – I may write about it soon, to take up your challenge!


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