Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Tree

I used to climb trees.

I also had a strange fascination with barbed wire growing up. I guess I always felt like it was an accomplishment when I would climb the fence. Sometimes I would rip a hole in my jeans or cut my skin. I would do this especially playing Capture the Flag or Flashlight Tag at night. I would run right into the barbed wire fence. I wouldn't notice the bleeding till I got back to my house.

Now as for trees, if I could jump the barbed wire where I lived there was this giant Cottonwood tree on the other side. I would dream of climbing it. However, it caught a disease, a tree disease, and it's slowly started to wilt it's stunning power and strength. I remember climbing my Grandma's tree in her front yard as a kid too. This tree was easy to climb. It made me feel strong and adventurous. My only trouble was in figuring out how to get down. I would like to say this fear died with childhood but not so. It was only a couple years ago I went on a hike, found a tree, climbed it and had no idea how to get back down.

I'm not exactly afraid of heights but once I'm up so high I can't figure out how to get down, it was so easy to get up. The view from below, while daunting, is a challenge I liked to take. The view from up high is priceless but once you realize you have to come back down, it's a bit disappointing.

 This past weekend Scott and I went to Julian for a mini day trip. It was so good to get out in nature, away from free-ways and traffic. It was so peaceful to feel a breeze, be far away from buidlings, and closer to nature's little noises of birds, leaves rustling, and life singing. We had a picnic under a large tree. I'm still mesmerized thinking about that tree and the view I had of it from the ground. Grass level view. I kept taking pictures to capture the tree, the leaves, the branches, the way the sun seeped through, the blue sky through the green leaves. It was so beautiful. I just couldn't capture it.

 It made me think about life and how I am always focused on "climbing the next tree". I just want a new tree, a new adventure, another accomplishment. But often when I climb too many trees I find myself stuck on a branch, unable to strategize a way down. Often I am so focused on getting to the next branch I forget to enjoy the scene below and above me. The view from the soft blanket in the grass is breathtaking. My eyes wonder in the open sky, the leaves dance in the sunlight. I relax taking in my surroundings.

 Sometimes I feel like my life is like Capture the Flag or Flashlight Tag. I am running and running and won't stop. I am running blindly in the dark. I crash into barbed wire and don't understand why. I run for the adrenalin rush, for the excitement but I don't know what I am doing or where I am going. I am hiding from all the flashlights because I don't want anyone to really find me. What they find might be alarming. Me, paralyzed as a kitten, up in a tree unsure how I got up here, more unsure how I will get down.

 Finally graduating in 3 weeks. I am already looking for the next tree to climb, the next thing to conquer, the next fence to jump, the next thing to do. But a small part of me remembers the tree I encountered this past weekend. The tree I didn't have to climb. The tree that gave me shade. The trees that let me rest and breathe deeply under it's long branches. The tree that spoke of beauty beyond what anyone can manufacture. The tree that spoke of strength beyond human capacity. I need that tree in my life. The one where I can rest at ease, reflect and instead of jumping to the next "tree climber activity", perhaps revel in the growth I have already seen. Enjoy the product of what I have planted, of what I have watered and what I have sewn.

 We are a workaholic society. A culture that thrives off of the next big thing. We are activators and accomplishers. We produce and produce and produce. We perform and perform and perform. Strive and strive and strive. If we never enjoy what we have produced what exactly have we gained? Is our identity only wrapped up in how much we get done, and how fast we can get it done?

 Maybe it's time I give myself a pat on the back and take a nice long nap under the tree I worked so hard to plant and grow these past 8 years (ahem 21 years in school). I have climbed this tree. And let me tell you something, the view from the grass is actually better in some ways than the view up in the sky, besides I don't even have to worry about how to get back down.

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