The Girl Who Sat in Trees

Before there were synced calendars and day planners and even before there were trapper keepers, there was a little girl who sat in trees. She sat in the trees for what felt like hours, though it might have been mere minutes. She dreamed, journal-ed and sketched. She transported to a place of joy and bliss, cradled in the crooks of maples and oaks, conversing with imaginary beings.

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Creative Commons license “CentreOfAttention” .

Eventually the little girl grew up and as happens, she stopped sitting in trees. She loved her art and writing and singing, but she was so very good at accomplishing what was asked of her –grades, scores certificates and awards–that little by little the doing and achieving overtook the being and dreaming. Sure, there were times she held on tightly; she traded calculus for art class, she filled nearly three dozen personal journals, and she took an art class here or there even as an adult. But no doubt, over time she shifted. She was a girl with goals and one day even the art was remembered as the silly musings of a child; the dreaming became purely the intellectual kind.

Nobody told her to put down the paint brush. They didn’t need to. She was a good rule-follower and she understood the unspoken rules of a world that stood in direct opposition to the place in the trees.

And so it was that decades later she found herself at the finish line all burned out and dried up. Even then she didn’t understand why. She was doing her very best to practice self-care and find balance within the system. She followed her heart within this system. She defied norms within this very system! So why wasn’t it working? What she didn’t know then is that no system–even this artificial world dominated by deadlines, goals and outputs, where rest was seen as a means to at some point get more done–did not exist outside the laws of nature. As far removed as she was from those trees of her childhood, the moon still waxed and waned above her. The seasons turned. The oak rested in winter and sprouted leaves in spring. Try as she might to will herself to make it work–to power through as she had always done–simply no longer worked because the answers would never be found in the wasteland.

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The Pine Tree (But it’s Not About the Tree)

The neighbor’s pine tree was removed today. It stood several inches away from our property line. But it felt like my tree.

The large crew of workers cheered when the tree came crashing down but I stood and cried. Oh I had plans, all internal mind you, to talk to our neighbors about my their tree. They told my husband they were planning to remove it because it was too messy. I was going to tell them about the woodpecker that lived in the tree. I tried to imagine their faces when I told them to save the tree for the birds, and well, I kept avoiding the conversation. And now my tree was gone, rolled away in an orderly pile of mulch.

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The pine tree that is no more. It is the tree pictured behind the bird feeder. Sniff.

Why am I fretting so much about the tree? It’s not the tree. I know this even though all I want to do is rant about the tree. No, I am crying for all the damn pine trees that have fallen in my life without my permission, disrupting the peace of my birds, leaving me helpless to fix. As if there was ever any fixing to be done in the first place!

Instead I will go for a run. I will drink a cup of hot tea even though I want coffee, because goodness knows more coffee will only make my heart quicken and I don’t need that.

I will fold laundry. I will pick up messes. I will write–first a dark poem about my tree on my private blog nobody knows exists (I will spare you the poem) and then this post. I will yell at the beagles when they find half a churro in my purse, and this sentence alone will make me laugh out loud for the first time since the tree was felled. Then I will chuck the churro away in the trash when I discover it is covered in ants (alas, I do live in Florida after all). Finally, one problem I can fix.

I will put away some dishes. I will drink more tea and keep avoiding coffee. I will let myself cry at the bright sun pouring down on grass where a tree once stood even though I know it’s not about the tree.