The Tree of Vigilance isn't very tall. But, its roots are
deep and strong. They wrap around the Rock of Vigilance
and hold tight to the belief that the Seedling's Seedling's Seedlings
are the most important asset of the Forest of Vigilance.
Find out how deep the Roots of Vigilance are for yourself and the
Little Tree of Vigilance.
12, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 821
The Vigilance Tree
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Dec. 12, 2003--
Once upon a time, in a deep forest often covered with great blankets
of winter snow, lived the Little Tree of Vigilance.
Tree of Vigilance
wasn't as big as its brothers and sisters. In fact, it was quite
small in comparison. When you stood next to the tiny Vigilance
Tree, you could almost touch its green pointy top. Its
brothers and sisters were huge, giant firs that stood like rocket
ships pointing their verdant, perfectly manicured arrow-shaped snouts
toward the far reaches of the universe.
Size, however, didn't bother the
Little Tree of Vigilance.
There was something special about the
boughs and needles that gave the little tree a stature equal to the
towering timbers dwarfing its presence on the forest floor.
Magpie was the first to question the Little Tree.
Magpie was the
first to question the Little Tree
feel...er...small...little...less-than the other trees," Magpie
chirped as he searched for bugs, beetles and ants that often stuck out
their heads out of exposed patches of trees' bark not covered by snow.
"Not really," said the Little
Tree of Vigilance. "I reach for the sky just like all my
brothers and sisters. I am happy when the sun touches me, or the
wind whistles through my branches."
Magpie hopped into the
"V" of big branch, raised up long tail and cocked his head to one
side, his eye burrowing into the tiny holes where the bugs and
wormlike creatures often stuck out their heads to see how warm it was.
"But...you aren't like the
other trees," Magpie said. "You're so small and they are so big.
Aren't you afraid they'll fall on you?"
Vigilance Tree spoke of his great, great, great grandfather drying
up with bare branches and becoming a deadfall
"Once, my great, great, great grandfather fell very close," said the
Little Vigilance Tree. It was two summer's ago.
He had dried up long ago. All his green was gone.
His branches were bare. They said he was a deadfall, and
everyone was worried that he would fall on them.
Everyone, but me."
"I heard him fall, Little
One," said the Magpie, spearing his beak at the sight of a white worm
inching its way out of a gnarled burl. "Mmmmm, yummy,"
Magpie said, lifting back his head as he swallowed the morsel.
"It was so scary."
"My great, great, great
Grand Daddy told me not to be afraid before he dried up," said the
Little Vigilance Tree. "He said I must have more Courage
than Fear, more Conviction than Intimidation, and take more Right
Actions than be Complacent about life."
hopped out to the end of the snow-laden branch and stared down at the
peak of the Little Vigilance Tree's top. "Why, you're way
too small and way too young to use such big words."
Great G-Pa--that's what I called him--said because I was so small I
must fight to be big inside. He said: 'You can't
tell how big a tree is by just looking at his bark. You have to
see his roots.'"
parachuted through the Little Vigilance Tree's boughs
The wind shot a cold blast through the forest, causing the snow donuts
heaped on the boughs surrounding the Little Vigilance Tree to fall.
They plopped around him, some bruising the piles of snow on his
boughs. Silvery strands of snow powder parachuted through
the Little Vigilance Tree's stout boughs. He looked not
unlike a tree inside a glass bulb that children shook in the nearby
village to make the white flakes inside swarm around the liquid and
drift down as though they held the magical forest in their tiny
doesn't that hurt when those snowballs fall on you!" Magpie screeched
out the question, fluttering to another tree where he spied a patch of
bark on the south side of the fir. He perched at the ready,
hoping for another morning snack to appear, perhaps a bark beetle this
time, a delicacy this time of year.
really. I have deep, big roots. I can handle anything."
I'll call you Small-Big...Small in size...Big in heart." Magpie
let out a screech and flapped his wings.
Little Vigilance Tree laughed. Snow jiggled off his boughs and
made a big "plop" on white blanket beneath him.
I'm just me. I'm not Big and not Small. I am who I
am. Great G-Pa Tree told me my size had nothing to do with
fighting off the Beast of Tree Terror. He said I must be
Vigilant in the forest. Or, I would live my life always afraid
of the bigger trees, always feeling I was less-than them, and, if I
grew too sad and alone because I was so small, my fir needles might
dry up and my branches would go bare. My Fear, Intimidation and
Complacency would weaken me, and the beetles and worms would get me.
Then I would only be firewood or just a deadfall before my time."
fluttered over toward the Little Vigilance Tree and clutched its top.
Magpie flapped his wings until he got his balance. He looked
like the top ornament of the Christmas Trees the humans took from the
forest and decorated for their children.
are strong," Magpie boasted. "I wasn't sure I could land
roots are strong."
your Great G-Pa...well..." Magpie cocked his head and eyed the
little tree..."well, he fell down. And almost crushed you.
What about his roots? I mean...if he was so strong and
big, how come he fell...?" Magpie lifted his left wing and
picked at his feathers.
The Little Vigilance Tree sighed. Snowflakes see-sawed
down as he spoke in a soft, quiet Voice.
told me the Beast of Beetle Terror got him. It happened
suddenly, Great G-Pa said. He awoke one morning and felt the
Terror Beetles trying to burrow into his bark. He said he
became a victim to the Beast of Beetle Terror because he stopped being
cocked his head and looked down through the Little Tree of Vigilance's
boughs. The little tree continued.
None of the
trees helped G-Pa fight off The Terror Beetles
"The summer before he was attacked, Great G-Pa Tree said he saw the
Terror Beetles attack an old friend five trees away. At
first, he said he wasn't afraid. He told the other tree to have
Courage and fight off the Fear of the attack. But his friend
ignored his warnings. 'I'm so big and strong none of these
beetles can hurt me,' his friend boasted. G-Pa was worried
for his friend. He knew that it was only when the other
trees helped their friends fight off the Beetle Terrorists that they
had a chance.
what happened," asked Magpie.
G-Pa saw the other tree start to get sick. It was a giant
tree, the biggest in the forest and his best friend. G-Pa
kept telling him to make more sap, to not try and grow and grow, but
instead sink his roots deeper and get the rich nourishment that would
drive the Terror Beetles away. He told his friend to wrap
his tap roots around the giant rocks, and grab Mother Earth like a
child hangs on to a mother's back.
didn't listen. Instead, he just focused on getting bigger,
taller, growing more limbs. The Terror Beetles
called on their friends. They came by the hundreds,
swarming over Great G-Pa's friend. None of the other trees
were concerned, because they were trying to get bigger too. His
friend's needles turned brown, fungus began to grow on its bark.
My Great G-Pa felt sad for the other tree. Great G-Pa got
tired of shouting at his friend and waving his boughs to signal the
danger. One day, Great G-Pa said, he turned his boughs
away from his friend. He said he got frustrated with his friend
and started to hope someone else would tell him to fight off the
Terror Beetles. But none of the other trees did."
"Why not?" Magpie darted
from the top of the Little Vigilance Tree to a branch of a giant
nearby tree. A winter worm was wriggling its head out of split
where the branch attaches to the trunk. Magpie was too
slow. His beak missed the morsel so he began to preen his
feathers as he listened to the little tree's story.
sometimes attack our family members
"The other trees were far too busy reaching up for the sunlight and
making seeds and sucking up water from the ground.
Everyone in the forest, you know, tries to survive.
Growing new branches is a full-time job. Then there are storms
and rain that try and push the trees over. And, thunder and
lightening sometimes set fires or attacks one of our family members.
Of course, there are the loggers who come and cut down whole families
The little tree
took a deep breath. "Worrying about another
tree...well, Great G-Pa told me...well, that's the sad part...the
other trees didn't worry...they didn't try to stop the Terror Beetles.
They were...selfish...they didn't want to help out G-Pa's friend...and
G-Pa, well, he grew sad they didn't help...and...he told
me...well...he just gave up. He said he let Fear, Intimidation
and Complacency worm into his bark and suck out his life.
He got selfish...he said...and...just before he totally dried up, he
begged me to take the Pledge of Tree Vigilance."
"What's that?" Magpie flew off
the limb of the big tree and swayed again atop the peak of the Little
Tree of Vigilance.
"It's a vow you make to yourself that
you'll do your best every day to help the seedlings learn to fight the
Magpie's wings fluttered.
"Why the seedlings? Why not help the big, giant trees?
Why, they keep you sheltered from the wind. They prove you
can grow big and strong too. Why not make the big guys your
buddies? Why not help them first and the Seedlings last?"
By helping the
Seedling's Seedling's Seedlings, the Littlest Tree taught them to
fight the Terror Beetles
"Great G-Pa told me
that when I thought about helping the Children's Children's
Children...the Seedling's Seedling's Seedlings...that would help more
than anything I could ever do for the big trees. If
every time a little baby tree sprouts up from the forest floor, I
start reminding the Seedlings about how to fight the Terror Beetles by
conjuring up more Courage than Fear, and mustering more Conviction
than Intimidation, and to think more about the Seedling's Seedling's
Seedlings instead of worrying about how big and strong they will
be...and to stop worrying about shoving all the other trees out of the
way to get the most sunlight... and not be concerned with just trying
to be the tallest tree in the forest... that the Beast of Beetle
Terror would not find a home in the baby trees. If I
was a Sentinel of Beetle Vigilance, why, then I would help the little
trees be more concerned with how deep their roots were than how tall
their tops were."
"But how come
you're so small. Shouldn't you be big if you help the little
"I can talk to the
baby trees. The big guys can't," said the Little Tree of
Vigilance. "My roots are very deep. And,
because I'm closer to the ground, I can whisper to the boughs of the
baby trees: "Have Courage...Little One...Have One Percent More
Courage Than Fear When The Worms and Beetles March Toward You....Don't
Be Intimidated By Them...Think About The Seedling's Seedling's
taught that our strength begins with our roots
"Then you don't care about the big, big trees?" Magpie flew in a
circle around the little tree.
of course. But the big trees were once little trees.
Great G-Pa told me that I should be an example of a Parent of Tree
Vigilance. Even though I'm small, I can be big. My
bark can be a Shield of Vigilance, protecting the Seedlings.
See, Magpie, he told me that one day I might forget to be Vigilant if
I stopped talking to the Seedlings. He said all trees want
to grow so big and strong that they forget it all begins with their
roots. If a tree's roots are deep and strong, then all the
winds and all the Terror Beetles will have a tough time knocking them
down. Every day I spend talking to the Seedlings my roots
grow deeper. How tall I am isn't as important as how
strong I am. If I believe in the future of the
Seedling's, Seedling's Seedlings, then I will last forever."
screeched "Nobody lives forever, not even trees!"
"Forever!" Magpie swooped up and clamped his feet around a tall
tree's branch just above the little tree. "Nobody lives forever,
not even trees!"
"Yes they can,"
said the Little Vigilance Tree. "If all the trees in the
forest teach all the Seedlings to be Vigilant, then Vigilance lives
forever. It lives when the fires come, when the lightening
strikes, when the Terror Beetles attack, even when the loggers come
with saws and axes. Vigilance is forever, Magpie.
And Great G-Pa passed his on to me. He reminded me why I
should not give up as he did, and, so far I haven't. Each
day I talk to the Seedlings about Courage, Conviction and doing what's
right for the Seedling's Seedling's Seedlings. The
Seedlings will keep me alive in their boughs and their bark, in their
limbs and in their roots."
Magpie. "That means that living forever is more
important than being the tallest, the strongest tree in the forest."
"It means caring
about others is the most important thing in the world, Magpie.
And even if I never get as big as, or as tall as, I will be as good as
all other trees have ever been because I care about the Seedlings.
Tree and the Magpie were Vigilant year after year in caring for
"Maybe I should have been a tree," Magpie wondered.
You're perfect, Magpie. But you can be even more perfect if you
that?" Magpie flew around the Little Vigilance Tree's top.
a Magpie of Vigilance. Take the Magpie's Pledge of Vigilance."
And so it was, year after year, the Little Tree of Vigilance taught
the Seedlings how to grow tall and strong by keeping their roots deep.
And, Magpie became a Sentinel of Magpie Vigilance, teaching all the
little Magpies how eat the most delicious of all treats in the
forest--the Terror Beetles.