Over 500 years ago one of the most creative minds in the world made an interesting and mostly unverified observation. In one of his notebooks, Leonardo Da Vinci wrote: "all the branches of a tree at every stage of its height when put together are equal in thickness to the trunk.” The concept is that if you measure the thickness of all the branches, and add up the values, they would combine to equal the thickness of the tree’s trunk. This can also be applied at branching points, and the width of the trunk below them.
It turned out to be a mostly accurate observation, with only some odd trees that defy this description. Nature's intent behind the design is to enhance the protection of the tree structure from winds and gravity. The tree balances itself while growing an ideal platform for the collection of sunlight. The tree, through its leaves, turns the light in to nutrition through photosynthesis.
Leaves could grow from a tree’s trunk, but that would limit the tree's growth. The tree takes a risk by expending energy in to the growth of branches, but the payoff is very well worth the risk. The growth of a tree structure is designed around balance, stability and nutritional payoff. Branches in some trees make dramatic adjustments in direction based on new conditions. Or, trees grow new branches and cease giving energy to others. Geometrically, the patterns of the total collection of branches, known as crowns, are often shaped like cones. The cones are either right side up or upside down, and are the ideal structure for gathering light.
The energy trees produce is reflected in their growth. Branches are structures of commitment for the tree. Thick, twisting branches represent years of growth. Branches balance each other and ultimately the overall structure. They weave and nod in the wind with grace and fluidity. They glide and arc to waves and influences seen and unseen. Trees that are isolated need to develop stronger structures than trees in dense forests with fewer structural challenges like strong winds.
With an understanding of this natural model, we can apply it to all kinds of human conditions. Nature reuses patterns. The physical structures of nature can inspire new thinking in our own mental planes. What if we applied branching to relationships? The trunk can represent our emotional core. We can understand that we need to balance our relationships to maintain stability and balance. Putting energy in to their growth will lead to more nourishment, as long as the growth adjusts to changing conditions. The more nourishment received, the more growth attained. With effort and commitment, we can build a balanced crown of love and connection. When branches grow, the mechanical stress from its weight remains constant as it grows. As the strength of our relationships grow, so does our ability to handle the stresses that may interfere with its ability to develop.
A branching tree can also model the branching structure of our own energetic output. What if we imagine work as a branch of our lives. Does the underlying structure support the branch? Is the branch adjusting to changing conditions? Is it providing the nutrition that stimulates new growth? Or, is it becoming outsized and unstable? The natural model is that branches provide the structure for nourishment, balance and stability.
Trees are fractals, and a developing branch repeats the same patterns of growth as the larger part. This is known as “self-similarity.” Our own branches of thought repeat the same patterns of growth of the larger unit. We create our branches and connections from our own source material. We can only expect to create that which matches the source material. We can create new source material within ourselves. The natural model is that branches provide nutrition to the source. We can let that guide our own actions and intentions. How does our branching provide nutrition to the source and enable our growth?
Imagine that a scrub jay buried the acorn of your intentions on a beautiful hillside in northern California. Warmed by the sun, held by the earth, nourished by the rain, the acorn cracks and grows with energy and exuberance. Along the journey of growth, there are sunny days and storms, predators and benefactors, pestilence and peace. Countless generations of breezy thoughts flow through the branches, but the structure stays balanced. Gravity can be wearisome, and storms can harm, but all along the tree counts on the light to nourish growth. In the end, the beauty of your crown is revealed.
Time is getting shorter and there's much for you to do
Only ask and you will get what you are needing,
The rest is up to you
Plant your love and let it grow
Let it grow, let it grow,
Let it blossom, let it flow
In the sun, the rain, the snow,
Love is lovely, let it grow
Eric Clapton - Let it Grow