Rachel Sussman is a photographer who has spent years traveling the globe documenting the oldest living organisms on the planet. Ms. Sussman talk about her fascinating project in a recent TED Talk, that you watch in full on the official site.
Watching this TED Talk on the train the other day, I have to say I was about ready to skip to the next video, when the excerpt above stopped me in my tracks. I kept rewinding and replaying it over and over, and then reviewing it in my mind for days afterward.
The idea of an 80,000 year old tree is astounding enough on its own.
But what floored me was this picture Ms. Sussman took of the "Quaking Aspen" in Utah. What looked like individual trees in a forest is really just one giant tree, with stems reaching up into the sky, and an intricate root pattern joining them all to each other. Each "tree" shares the same DNA, the same foundation. And though an individual stem might wither, the tree itself is theoretically immortal.
Am I just one lone, small tree? Or am I the branch of something deeper, something that lives forever?