I was driving through Colorado last year, on my way to a wedding. I love weddings: young love in full bloom, familial love growing stronger; weddings are beautiful celebrations of love’s connectivity. The love is infectious.
As I was driving to the wedding, driving away from Denver and into the thin air of the Rockies, I passed groves of aspen trees. Thin, white, spindly. Like a whispering wood of spirits that guarded over the mountains themselves.
I had seen these groves before, and I certainly wasn’t the first to be moved by their quiet gravitas – John Denver beat me to it in Aspenglow by a few decades. But as I passed the aspen, I couldn’t help but feel that there were fewer groves than I’d seen previously. Where once there were ranks of groves of aspen – like a silent army of trees – there now appeared sparser outcroppings – a scouting party of aspen.
It turns out that aspen trees aren’t individual organisms. In a grove, each “tree” is a genetically identical “shoot.” All shoots are connected through an extraordinarily rich and detailed root structure. When you look at a grove of aspen, what you’re actually seeing is one giant organism – one giant tree dispersed among the thousands of shoots.
Aspen have been fading in Colorado mostly due to severe drought. When the waters dry up, the aspen die. Because they are interconnected, death affects the entire grove. The pain is experienced by the whole, connected organism – not just the individual shoot.
We wouldn’t know this simply by looking at the trees. We’d simply marvel and wonder how all these individual trees died all at once. Because we’re only looking at the surface. It’s only when we dig deep enough to see the vast, collective consciousness of these aspen can we see how they live and thrive and wilt and die as one.
I am reminded of the retreating aspen when I think about us today. We, all around the world, are hurting. Many of us are sick. Many have died. And many of us mourn the loss of the ones we love. We’re suffering. And while we know that there are millions around the world – just like us – carrying this burden of suffering, we somehow believe that our pain is contained only within ourselves. Our sickness is contained in just our own little shoot. Even though the shoot next to us is also in pain. All the shoots are sick. But we believe that the pain, the grief, the anguish is individual.
Carl Jung, one of the founders of psychology, posited that there existed a vast collective unconscious. Each individual’s psyche was a persona that emanated from this collective unconscious. This “world spirit” was the birthplace of our archetypes of father, mother, safety, danger, hero, and countless others. We, then, are primed to analyze our world through these hard-wired archetypes.
I want to take this one step further. This collective unconscious isn’t merely responsible for how we perceive the world; it’s a profound energy feedback loop that connects us all with each other. It’s our aspen root network. Look around: even in people who have been lucky enough to avoid the coronavirus, rates of mental illness have been skyrocketing. Anxiety, depression, and substance abuse have all increased. As individuals, we suffer when the whole of the world suffers.
There is a blight upon our connected unconscious – a blight that began with a virus whose initial pain sent shockwaves and secondary tremors through our collective psyche. We’re feeling the anxiety of the world.
Why is it hard to recognize this? Perhaps it’s because we’ve come to respect our own crucial roles in this pandemic. Each of us knows to mask up, wash our hands, stay six feet away from each other. We’re critically in tune with our own, singular bodies. But because we’ve been so focused on how we operate as individuals, we’ve lost sight of how we operate as a collective. And therefore we get surprised and confused when anxiety or depression is upon us. “I’m healthy,” we think. “I exercise, I wash my hands. I do yoga and take my probiotic. So why am I so scared?”
We’re scared because the grove is scared. We’re anxious because a soul we’re connected to is anxiously awaiting to see if her mother will make it off a ventilator. We’re depressed because another connected soul can’t see his grandchildren for the holidays. We’re sad because our collective soul is sad.
So what do we do when we know that there is a blight upon our grove?
I think back to my trip to Colorado, about driving away from the aspen and up to the wedding. I think about all the smiles, the tears, the dancing, the kisses, and the relationships strengthened at this celebration of love.
And I remember feeling invigorated and filled to my fingertips with love and generosity.
So my answer is to love. Love yourself, love your neighbor. Love your dog, your cat. Push the love out there like rain in a drought. Replenish your grove, because it’s the only grove we’ve got.
Join me, if you can, on a journey where I show you how to focus the energy of love and light into healing. Our medical intuition course will help you activate your higher heart, so that you can share that positive healing light with the world. Our class just began, but there’s still time to jump right in! We’re saving you a seat!
Connect with yourself. Connect with the world. And let the healing begin.