The Girl in the Tree
When I was a little girl, I climbed every tree I could find. To the tops of the ornamental crab apple trees I would go, deftly scaling one branch then another. Sometimes I’d sit at the top for awhile, admiring the view or maybe hiding from the kids who called me names and threw my toys over the playground fence into the forbidden ravine below. But more often I would leap from the high branches and feel my weight slam into my feet on the firm ground below. And start again.
I spent hours at the playground in my neighbourhood, pumping my legs and reaching my toes to the sky. We always wondered if we could swing high enough to go right over the top bar of the swing set. We tried, even though the mere idea of it terrified us. When the swing swung high, I’d feel my hands and arms release the chains, almost involuntarily, and my body would fly through the air. And land, firmly.
These risks weren’t entirely reckless. I would think to myself, “Well, if I fall this way, I could break an arm. Or bump my head. I could maybe snap a leg if I’m not careful.” And yet, I climbed and leapt and kept on going.
My knees were covered in scabs and scratches. There were prickly burrs in my hair and tears in my clothes. But my days were full of adventure and adrenaline.
These days, my heart pounds in my throat as I watch my kids exploring. Running hard and climbing high, sometimes slipping, sometimes falling. I want to stop them, protect them, but no. They need this adventure. They need to rush headlong into their decisions — for better or worse.
Oh, where has my adventure gone? Somehow, calculating the risks overshadowed the doing, the daring, the reaching.
What if I try and fail? What if I make a plan that falls apart? What if I get hurt? What if, what if, what if?
No more. I will not be the gatekeeper blocking myself from my dreams.
I will be that girl in a tree once more.