The Girl in the Tree

I don't want to be the gatekeeper blocking myself from life. I want to be 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.

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11 thoughts on “The Girl in the Tree

  1. I’m so happy I got to experience similar adventures as a kid; my friends and I would explore the forest near our house for hours on end, or climb ancient pine trees and, oh, the swinging with your heart beating in your throat. I try to choke down the ‘be carefuls’ every time my kids do something that could result in disaster, because what’s the fun in having your feet always firmly planted on solid ground? Go climb a tree!

    1. Just reading this makes me feel those feelings again. I love it. I miss that!

    1. Well, I’m going to do two of those fun muddy races this summer and write a novel that I’m going to make sure gets published. How about that?

  2. I was a tree girl, too! Trees are very helpful for so many things. They are great places in which to think, read, hide, hang upside down, swing. Trees have it all! Even if you are not in one just being near one can improve your mood.

    If there are swings, we swing. (It’s in the manifesto) I was swinging just last week while my Things and a friend played. I still enjoy that widgy (Thingism) feeling in my tummy as the swing goes higher and higher. I still jump off.

    I hope I always remember to do the things that make me feel alive and happy. Sometimes, when I get bogged down with all the serious stuff of life, I forget.

  3. Oh man, I was a tree dweller as well. And now, I’m queen of the bubble wrappers. How did that happen and how can I turn it around??

    1. Baby steps. Climb a small tree first.

      Get on up there, Lisa. We can be those girls again!

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