The other day I heard some news about a tree in San Diego that inspired Dr. Seuss to create the story, The Lorax.
This tree, the Monterey Cypress died and fell over on June 16, 2019 in La Jolla, California. This beautiful tree that was an inspiration to one of Dr. Seuss’ greatest stories, and there was no obvious reason for its death.
I live not too far from where this tree grew, and just a short distance from many of the trees that you can see in Dr. Seuss books. In fact, if you walk through Balboa Park or La Jolla Shores, you can notice them. It’s really cool and it makes me happy to see the same trees still standing that gave Dr. Seuss material for his amazing stories. And I haven’t been able to shake the idea of how symbolic it is that this apparently healthy tree, is suddenly gone.
The story The Lorax, is about a once beautiful forest containing Truffula trees and the animals who live in the forest. The Truffula trees are chopped down and used by the Once-ler to make a “versatile” garment that sells like hot-cakes, thus encouraging the Once-ler to grow the business at any cost (sound familiar?). The Lorax is a character in the story that “speaks for the trees” as they have no tongue to speak for themselves. He voices disapproval of the tree cutting, but the Once-ler pays no attention and keeps growing the business - causing pollution and destruction of the land, water, air and animals.
Once the forest has been decimated, the Lorax must leave the land, for he has nowhere to live. But before he departs, he creates a monument with the word “Unless”. Just a single word – unless.
With the land cleared and his factory vacant and shut down, the Once-ler spends years in lonely solitude contemplating and pondering the word on the monument.
His epiphany finally comes and he realizes that “unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Although The Lorax is a children’s story, it has a very serious message – corporate greed, consumerism and disconnection with nature destroys the environment. Is Mother Nature trying to tell us something through this beautiful Monterey Cypress tree falling? My heart and my gut say yes. That unless we care, nothing is going to get better. So let’s make a pledge to care.