Today I just happened to start making comparisons in my mind the two separate but similar ways life has been evolving in the world in which we live. I had coffee several months ago with a woman who is somewhere in her 90′s and still living by herself. She is a remarkable woman in many ways. She worked very hard all her life and became quite successful until she retired and started doing charity work to keep busy. She’s an avid reader and continues to work her mind as well as her body in an attempt to stave off the creeping-in of the typical mental and physical problems that come with growing old. She spoke of a book that she was reading about a recent study of people over 90 years old and how they’ve managed to stay relatively healthy.
It was interesting listening to her talk about how few antibiotics she took in her life as well as the more natural foods she insisted on eating. She said, “When I was young, my mother would do everything she could to keep us children from having to go to the doctor.” She said she believed she’d have to be on death’s doorstep before a doctor was called. An interesting point she made was when she said, “People today run to the clinics far too quickly. They should let their bodies try to heal themselves.” It was an interesting statement coming from a person who is very familiar with modern medicine. I’ll never forget helping a 93 year old woman get her walker and somehow she thought I wasn’t placing it in the correct position when she got up out of her chair. Oh Mercy! She squeezed my hand so hard I thought my hand was in a vice. The strength in her farmer hands was still alive and well. I told her later she had the grip of a big boy. She laughed a little, blushed, and then said, “It comes from milking all those cows for years.”
In comparison, I speak now about how the lumber of today has changed so drastically. If you take an exact sized 2″ x 4″ cut at the same length of new lumber purchased at a lumberyard, and then find one that is likely 100 years old from an old growth forest of the exact size, you will find the strength of the old growth 2″ x 4″ far greater than the new. The level of warpage between the two are also strikingly different. Those old growth trees grew naturally without any encouragement. If they went through a drought, they simply grew more resilient to moisture variations. If they survived near death from either extreme heat or cold, they became more temperature tolerant. If they survived pest infestations, they learned to turn on their natural repellants more quickly. From all the trials and tribulations during their long years of growth, their wood became strong as well as dense.
It causes one to wonder if there is too much intervention with the natural growth of life here on earth. It appears that those who’ve allowed their bodies to heal themselves whenever possible tend to be more physically and mentally strong well into their retirement years. Once in a while I see one of the biggest natural growth pine trees near the downtown that continues to grow in a very healthy fashion. If the owners would ever choose to have it cut down, I hope they send it to a sawmill and put its old growth lumber to good use. Look around and see if you can find any old growth humans.