Whenever I go hiking, I’m always on the look out for trees. Not just any trees, but climb-able trees. The annual New Years hike that I do with friends is no different. I was absolutely delighted to find not one, but two trees that were perfect for climbing.
I don’t know what it is about climbing trees that intrigues me so much. It’s part happy childhood memory, part “because-I-can”, and part communing with nature.
My dad taught me how to climb trees. I still remember the first time I was in ever in a tree. I had to be about three years old. He had me sitting on his shoulders. All I had to do was hold on to the top of his head, and up into the tree he went. In my memory, we were high in the sky. As I think about it now, I realize that, as with most things in my life, I was shown how to do things and then left to explore them on my own. On my father’s shoulders, there’s no way that I ever thought I would fall.
Later, we had a tree in our backyard and my brothers and I would stake out the best branches and sit up in the tree. We must have spent hours in that old tree, throwing things and seeing how high we could climb. And from how high we could jump.
When I did my first silent retreat, we were left to meditate in silence for hours and hours at a time. It was with absolute glee that I sat in a tree for four hours, listening to the stream below and the wind above me. In some ways, I learned to pray that way. Just by listening and being still.
Ah, but that “because-I-can” attitude is the best. It’s so me. I love calculated risks. I study the trees before I get into them. I make sure there’s a safe way up. It’s not often that I consider a safe way down, but, well, that’s beside the point. I love that people will stare. Or that people think it’s silly.
When my friend sent me this picture of my triumph at the top of this tree, I laughed a little, but it also made me a little sad. I’m not sure why I thought of this at this moment, but I really thought about the fact that the day would come when I would not be able to hoist myself up into a tree. So, I figured that I should make it a point to get up into the trees as often as possible, but I also figured that I should probably teach someone else to do it.