The Tree’s Truth: What we Can Learn from Being Still – Lessons from Nature


Aware so many of you- my friends and family are forced to be still and rooted in our homes (unnaturally) for too many weeks, now going stir crazy; I decided to share this reflection. This is the entire article. I’ll post one of the seven reflections/day for the next week up to #Earthday2020


Lesson Two: Defy Fear, Grow Against Gravity

When a tree breathes, it absorbs oxygen and respires also carbon dioxide just like us. The process of respiration releases also vaporized water into the atmosphere from the highly sophisticated, precisely calculated, and intelligently controlled opening and closing of the stomata (very Italian) on the needles or leaves of the tree. These openings are constantly optimizing for photosynthesis and respiration. Remember the Ps/Rs ratio? The clever trick of the stomata flick of the switch is that it actually controls tree growth and loss of water. This powerful process called transpiration drives the growth of trees and is part of the global water cycle. Thus, trees are not only the lungs of the planet; but also rain-makers.

 Now then, what’s even more extraordinary is that given the special cohesion properties of water molecules, this process of transpiration happens in a tree literally from the ground– up. Yes, that’s right…. water flows against gravity up a tree stem. Given the special energetic properties of water, water molecules are linked together like a chain, traveling water cell to water cell in the tree’s xylem tissue…until water vapor exits the stomata gate and enters the outer world’s water cycle once again… for maybe the millionth, billionth time, for the rest of the non-tree environment to take. And, it can be no other way. The tree is an essential, biological water-carrier from its root to its shoot within the closed earth water cycle loop. 

In order to grow, the leaves and needles must open their stomata without fear, but certainly with sacrifice of their anti-gravity water (via transpiration) to in turn make food for creatures on the planet (via photosynthesis) far and near.  Sounds a lot like a social good artist, educator, and entrepreneur? The tree—like the heroic social entrepreneur, must sacrifice his solitary water needs to supply a hungry forest community with food, knowledge, and future vision. It is her nature to do so, even though she must constantly innovate past the gravity of convention and grave reality of resistant tension to adapt to unavoidable change. Only then will humanity discover our true ascension. That said, flowing freely and fearlessly in our passion and purpose like water in a tree is going to be (during these COVID19 days, especially) really challenging, and yet really important for survivors like you and me. So, just remember the tree.

Advice from a Tree

Stand tall and proud,

Sink your roots into the earth.

Be content with your natural beauty;

Go out on a limb;

Drink plenty of water;

Rediscover the seed from which you came…

Enjoy the view.


Dedication to the 1 Trillion Trees Project

There are a little over 3 trillion trees on the planet. That’s about 400/person; but as I said earlier, its 50% less than we had before cities. How can we biodivert cities and return nature to the heart of our human civilization?  What can we do to bring nature back to you? And, the first super-simple, super-easy, super-techno thing you can do is to shift your search engine from Google to Ecosia. Ecosia converts your clicks into virtual coin that they invest in forest restoration and tree planting. Check it out. They just launched and are on their way to planting now 90 million trees. (seems 1/second) Visit One Trillion Trees project

Dedication to the guardians of the forest, Nia Tero

We are all native to planet earth; and yet Indigenous Peoples are the guardians of our vital ecosystems. They embody nature’s wisdom in their rich cultures, intergenerational communities, and earth connections. They can show us how to recover our Human+Nature health and how to well celebrate our sustainable home. Visit Nia Tero

Dedication to the Mycelia, Fungi Perfecti

Mycelia are the naturally intelligent networks of our planet. As virtual shopping and online purchasing now explodes and spreads virally—almost as fervently as the corona virus itself; the environmental footprint of packaging likely also sky rockets. The good news is that the problem of unsustainable packaging must be addressed in the new circular economy-driven world we want to emerge into at the other end of CV19. I love all the online shopping one can do for mushroom health and soil composting and citizen science engagement to help re-vitalize bee populations on Fungi Perfecti; but where did the Life Box go???? I can only now find a site for Live Box sport’s and entertainment streaming.

Dr. Catherine Cunningham, PhD, Natural Intelligence Media is committed to awakening Natural Intelligence in the World. She produces multimedia content — books, films, and podcasts with her creative companions that aim to inspire everyone, everywhere to live a happy, healthy, naturally intelligent life.

Visit our Natural Intelligence Website HERE.

Participate in our “Combatting COVID-19 with Compassion” Heart Campaign HERE

Listen to my Naturally Intelligent by Design Podcast, featuring strategies from animals in our world to adapt to disruptive environmental change. HERE

Listen to our Natural Intelligence Worldwide Podcast HERE.

No alt text provided for this image

Join our #covidcompassion campaign-music video with Grammy- award-winning Ricky Kei and interview series with Dr. David Nabarro, Special Envoy to COVID-19 for WHO in support of the World Health Organization World Health Organization and the Solidarity Response Fund. CLICK HERE

#allinthistogether #healthyathome #stayhome #besafe #takecareofyourself #stayhomestaysafe


  • Catherine Cunningham, PhD

    Mission Possible: Awaken Natural Intelligence in Our World

    Natural Intelligence

    Dr. Catherine Cunningham, PhD is an ecologist, anthropologist, writer, filmmaker, and media host producing films, interactive experiences, and online multimedia for international clients who are focused on positive economic, social, and environmental win-win-win solutions to global conservation and climate change.

    Catherine has travelled, written, photographed, and filmed in 70 countries, producing creative films and music videos in support the UN Global Goals and the human+nature planetary health narrative. Visit Natural to see where her work has premiered internationally. Over 20 years, she has interviewed hundreds of global thought leaders to promote sustainable solutions to climate change and conservation in creative ways. Catherine has written numerous articles on climate change, nature, and regeneration. She’s currently writing two books: “Naturally Intelligent by Design” — a fine art science and culture book for families and “Natural Intelligence”— a guidebook for well-navigating a post COVID-19 world by following nature’s principles. Partnering with Eurovision News and Events, Catherine is also an independent media host— producing content on nature, climate, and regeneration; syndicated globally by EuroVision’s News Direct. She is a regular contributor to Thrive Global and Medium. She currently produces communications for the Prince Albert II Foundation and participates in programming @ the World Economic Forum on Climate Change, Nature, and Biodiversity. As an university educator, Catherine taught undergraduate and masters courses in corporate sustainability communications at Arizona State University; global sustainability at Chapman University; biology, ecology, botany, and environmental science at Denver State College and Front Range College. In 2016, she designed one of the first university courses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (also online), contributing to youth action on the UN Global Goals. She also created a post-graduate program with UNESCO on the MAB (Man the Biosphere) reserves. Catherine earned her PhD in Ecosystem Science at ETHZ in Switzerland, studying climate impacts on mountain ecosystems. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Cultural Anthropology and International Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame and a Masters degree from Utah State in Ecology. Catherine speaks fluent English and conversational Italian. She loves creative collaboration, media production, mountaineering, outdoor sports, yoga, wellness, and travel.