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The tree of life

The tree of life
The tree of life
Stephanie Taylor Ferriell
By Stephanie Taylor Ferriell, Senior Staff Writer, [email protected]

The teaser for the article caught my eye: “Some trees can live for more than 1,000 years …”

I’ve reached that point in life where one becomes interested in longevity. Yes, my most recent birthday places me solidly in the — gulp — middle-aged category.

It’s not that I mind being there; it absolutely beats the alternative. I’m just not sure how I arrived here so quickly. And, to be honest, I’ve felt the last few years in a way I never did my first few decades. My knees do not appreciate stairs anymore. A stiff neck and a right arm that’s always a bit numb prevent me from sleeping on my right side. I need those blonde highlights more frequently, and I don’t think my anti-wrinkle cream is working as well as it used to.

So, trees that can live to be 1,000 and still maintain the appearance of a youthful sapling? Sign me up!

Scientists have found ginkgo trees can live for centuries or longer and not show signs of aging. How do they do it? In very simple terms:

They don’t stop growing.

They drink plenty of water.

They don’t stress.

They mind their own business.

Hmmmmmm. Interesting. Very interesting.

Perhaps No. 1 is the most crucial. Ginkgos don’t stop growing. All too often, we humans do, and far too early in our lives.

The idea that once we become adults we know all we ever need to and don’t have anything to learn is deadly. Literally. Life is constantly changing and so must we if we don’t want to be left behind. Growing, learning and changing will keep you young at heart. And happier, much happier.

Ginkgos drink plenty of water. These trees know hydration is key to maintaining life, and they stretch out their roots to get a drink when they need it. It’s probably safe to say most of us don’t drink nearly enough water. That’s too bad because our bodies crave it. And guess what? Proper hydration keeps you healthy and your skin fresh and younger looking.

Ginkgos don’t stress. Resisting external stressors is key to their longevity, scientists say.

This one’s huge, isn’t it? A growing body of data prove the link between mental and physical health. Stress can absolutely kill us. If we don’t learn how to deal with it in a healthy manner, we might not live as long or as well as we might otherwise.

Ginkgos mind their own business. They just grow on, focusing on themselves, not worrying about what their neighbor’s doing. (I’ll bet they don’t even have Facebook profiles.)

Wouldn’t the world be a happier place if this were how humans lived? If we could learn to concentrate on improving our own lives instead of everybody else’s, we might actually make some real progress.

Growing older is a part of life none of us can avoid. We shouldn’t want to. If we spread our branches, reach for the sky and shine in our own way, growing older will be a joy.

Make like a tree.