Humans developed methods of synthesizing oxygen from ocean water in large scales in 2117. The process which provided oxygen for atomic submarine crew, could now be used to provide oxygen for all people. Since humanity no longer needed vast forests, people decided to cut down trees to free space for housing and industrial projects. Seventeen years old Adam took part in this operation as a controller of massive tree cutting machine. Adam’s job was quite easy as he manipulated a gigantic laser gun using personal screen at operations control unit.
Being bored, Adam directed the camera installed on his laser gun to surrounding area. As the weather was rather windy, he watched movements of leaves, which seemed to him as a kind of play. Suddenly, some leaf caught his attention due to its irregular moves. It somehow defied the patterns he observed in the movements of other leaves. He stopped his machine and ordered all other machines to halt, as he went to look at the leaf closer. As he was approaching the tree with the peculiar leaf, he saw many trees lying down, with their leaves getting yellow. It was the first time Adam saw trees and leaves so closely, as neither his neighborhood nor his school had any greenery. Eventually, he came to that leaf, brushed the dust on its surface and touched it. Since he did not know what type of leaf it was, he took his multi-purpose scanner to scan the leaf. Upon scanning, some unknown symbols started to appear on the screen of the scanner. As he could not make sense of these symbols, he tried to downgrade the operating system of the scanner with the hope that previous operating systems might recognize the symbols. At that point, the scattered symbols rearranged themselves in a sentence which said, Hello, Adam, I have been waiting for you. Adam felt perplexed as he never knew that leaves could send messages to scanning devices. He kept reading the message which contained following lines:
Hi, Adam. I am a leaf of the oak tree. Your generation has never seen us close enough, but your grandparents used to play in forests full of trees. People used to come forests to have picnics, where they were teaching their children about us. But soon things stated to change. We went on with our lives. We clean your air by transforming carbon dioxide into oxygen that you breathe. We never felt wary of our duties, even if humans made our tasks harder by polluting the air. Many forests were cut down and turned into mines or plantations. Dust particles from those mines tended to land on us, making our job unbearable. Yet we kept going, as we knew the value of doing the goodness.
Upon hearing this, Adam felt sorry for the tree and the leaf. In his school children were taught about superiority of the human race, so Adam were never interested in other forms of life. As an attempt to learn more about leaves, he looked around and saw millions of leaves surrounding him. A sheer number of leaves stunned him with each of them looking exactly the same. So he sent a question to the scanner asking the leaf whether all the leaves are identical. After several seconds, the following reply was on the screen of his scanner.
Look closely, Adam. No two of us are identical, as no two humans are identical. In this sense, each leaf is unique. But, you are right in saying that we look similar. Indeed the leaves of the same tree look alike. We cherish our similarities and differences. For instance, each of us provide different levels of nutrients, oxygen and energy. We do not compete with each other as to who provides more. It is a meaningless comparison. We know that each of us is doing its best.
After reading this reply, Adam realized how inconsistent was his previous knowledge about plants. He understood that plants share much more with humans than he thought before. Trying to clarify his hypothesis, he asked the leaf about its life by sending the message into his scanner. After several moments, a following message appeared on the screen.
Our lives are pretty short. We are born in spring, reach maturity in summer and pass away in autumn when strong winds and rainfalls bring us down. For some of us, the life can be much shorter. Knowing shortness of the life, we value each day. We live in the present. We have no idea what might happen next moment. Currently, we are seeing your machines and what they are doing to other trees, yet we are at peace. As I am talking to you, Adam, I am treasuring this moment, as it might be the first and the last conversation between man and leaf. In case, there will be no more trees left on this planet, pass the messages I have sent you to other humans. Let them know that we loved human beings and still do.
Reading the last part of the message, Adam could not hold his tears back. He started to sob while hugging the tree. They say that the worst feeling one could have is regret. And the worst of all regrets is harming the one who always have done good to you. Adam regretted his actions. He wished that he would never had cut down a single tree. As his sobs subsided, he hugged the tree at last and whispered that he would protect it.
On the way back to the operations control unit, Adam sent these messages to all people around the globe via satellite connection. The people around the world understood importance of trees and their value. The program on clearance of forests was immediately halted. The remaining trees were preserved under heritage laws and made into national parks. That was the story of the friendship between Adam and the leaf.