Tree Hugging, by Susan Austin-Crumpton

Last year at this time I was wishing for better energy, an end to the fatigue I was experiencing, and good health. Two weeks later I had bypass surgery on my heart.

Today I am walking the Joyce Kilmer natural forest with good energy and no fatigue. The trail is uphill and steep. The air is clean and a wonderful man is at my side helping me over the deep roots and rocks.

My prayers were answered. Like a lot of life, I pray for what I want, get what I need, and then enjoy a version of what I wanted in the first place.

A lot happened for me in the last year. I am learning that if I am not aging I am dead. So I welcome the tasks of getting older with gratitude and relief. Love is softer and more meaningful. I don’t take as many things personally as I used to do. I smile at the joy spilling out from dogs and children.

I notice when I am not seen and heard and I have stopped trying to make others take notice; such freedom and relief to stop trying. I am able to say I am sorry with greater ease because being wrong does not define me.  It's something I do and not who I am.

Being present with these virgin forests makes me introspective and filled with holiness. These trees have lived a lot longer than I will and yet their day to age will come also. I feel comforted by their ancient wisdom. To be so certain who you are, what you are doing here, where you stand and what your meaning and purpose in life is, soothes me and gives me support.

It is good to be alive and to be striving toward a purpose very similar to theirs. I lean into a giant 450-year-old tree and am filled with energy, stamina and forever.


Susan Austin-Crumpton
Founder & Executive Director, The Estuary