Tree-Ra and The Leaves Of Power has become a welcome member of a Discord server I frequent. It’s not a creative username pun or an inside joke between us, but a real (digital) tree we water in real time using a simple input as it grows to compete against other servers. Already we’ve surpassed the likes of It’s Treeson Then and George Bush in rival communities across the planet, and not through organised effort, but an authentic care for this virtual lifeform we’ve come to cultivate. We do it for the thrill of competition, yet also for love, and the hope this sprouting little dude will one day pierce the heavens.
I’m not sure how the bot itself works, or even how our moderators set it up in the first place, but that hasn’t stopped it from taking over my life and becoming a regular part of my routine. Even as I sit at my desk writing this article, I’m tempted to tab out and check if our friend is in need of watering or if apples have sprouted for us to collect. Given Tree-Ra is now well over 2,000 feet in height, I can’t imagine catching an apple from that distance would feel very good on your hands. Heck, it would almost definitely kill whoever tried to catch it.
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Our tree is currently 115th in the world, and will likely rise further through the ranks as we take turns watering it throughout the week. The bot won’t allow the same person to water it twice in a row, meaning it becomes a collaborative effort by design. Enough of us are frequenting the server that it remains watered at most hours of the day, but when the bark starts to feel dry, all it takes is a call to arms to get the ball rolling once again. It even turns into a competition among the server, with many of us watching the timer count down, so we can be the first to water it and earn another level or step forward on the leaderboard. I’ve kicked myself so many times for being seconds late to the punch. It hurts to love a fictional tree this much, knowing my love is there ready and willing to give.
The time between watering also increases the larger a tree becomes. We began at just a couple, but now a minimum of five minutes must pass between rounds. This means reaching the top of the global leaderboard is a serious commitment, and will catch out those unwilling to go the distance. I’ll admit, days have passed where I’ve forgotten to put my shift in or a friend has had to nudge me to grab my watering can and get to work. On the flipside, I’ve been the girl begging my friends to give the tree a cheeky sip to keep us in the running. I don’t know why it’s so fun, or how we’ve come to attach an identity to this thing, but the fact it has been going for weeks with no signs of slowing brings me unparalleled joy. Who knows what adventures await in the days to come, and if it will remain a focus of our server.
Competing with others in the community is also a rather titillating thrill, since I’m able to take a look at their progression and frequency of watering without ever contributing. My heart will always belong to Tree-Ra, and betraying her majesty would be sacrilege. There’s a beautiful simplicity to how this tree has brought so many of us together and inspired teamwork, puns, memes, photoshops of characters hanging out amidst the branches, and a clear sign of how we’ve all become closer friends through the existence of this little server in the far corners of the internet.
We wouldn’t still be climbing the ranks if it didn’t mean something to us, or if we didn’t mean something to each other. Pour one out for Tree-Ra, just make sure you’re pouring it in her general direction, so she can keep on growing.