The Angel Oak Speaks

Lessons from a tree that saw the whole damn American thing.

By: Ryan Ramsey

I heard about one of the oldest oak trees in North America, about 20 minutes from a job site I was at in South Carolina.

After work, I showered and changed, and rode over the intercoastal waterway.

I found the Angel Oak, a 4-500 year old tree on a quiet dirt road.


Everyone was gone, so I took a couple pictures and enjoyed the quiet as I looked it over. I thought about all that had happened during its life and what it would have to say if it could talk.

This tree watched us come off the ships and conquer nature, fight off savage tribes, then fight the British for our freedom in 1776, and again in 1812.

It saw us fight Washington D.C. in 1861 to preserve what we won in 1776, and this time the bad guys were victorious.

This old tree saw us learn to work around each tyranny when we could, and fight it when we had to.

It saw the Federal Reserve Act and the IRS, as well as grand black markets and crypto-currency.

It saw world wars and it saw the Battle of Athens,TN.

It saw us beat Hitler only to elect Obama.

It saw the Soviet Union fall but the legions of Marx take over all of the Democrats, and most of the Republicans.

Soon I realized that its words really wouldn’t matter, much like humans. I began to look at what it DID. What was different about it in comparison to other trees that never grew so grand or lived so long?


How did this tree continue to thrive through so much turmoil, and through such extremes of good and bad?

Standing there, the answer was obvious.

The Angel Oak found a good place, and its roots sank into fertile soil, without that it would have long ago been firewood.

Some of the branches touch the ground. That is rather unusual, but to support a 187 foot branch, it makes sense to prop it up, so this tree is not afraid to break a few rules to succeed.

It did not let parasites or insects infest it, but I did see some beneficial air plants and ferns grow on its branches, so it was willing to cooperate with others where it was mutually beneficial.

Those things are all important, but none of them would have mattered had the Angel Oak ever quit, but it kept growing and fighting.

Find something worthy, sink roots in, break the rules, shake the parasites and pollutants, gather the helpful around you, and never quit growing and never surrender in the fight to do so.

Duly noted Angel Oak. Thank you.


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