Present Tense

The best tree-climber in the neighborhood……

I had a bit of an epiphany this morning via Facebook.  Seriously.

Here’s the Cliff Notes version of what led to this moment of clarity.  I have a “Question a Day Five Year Journal” that I write a couple of sentences in everyday and yesterday’s question was “where do you feel most at home”?  Like most of the daily queries, you can take them at face value or dig a little deeper for an answer.  Since you only get a tiny space to enter your thoughts, I rarely write or ponder much more than a cursory answer and so I wrote, “Outside”.  Simple, but unsatisfying.

So, I signed onto my Facebook account and saw that one of my favorite friends had posted a status update that simply said, “want to go home”.  I wrote a quick comment about my journal entry and said that I wasn’t sure where “home” is.  I got up this morning to see this comment from a childhood friend:  “Jane, when we where kids, you were home.  You were the best tree-climber in the neighborhood”.  BAM!

That’s it.  He’s right.  I WAS the best tree-climber in the neighborhood.  We had a tree next to my house that was the centerpiece of our condensed world.  We nailed steps on it, chipped out footholds, hung around underneath it during hot summer days, ate sandwiches perched on the branches.  So, being the best tree-climber was quite an accomplishment, particularly in a neighborhood of mostly boys.  I was the best because I was fearless.

I watched all of my fellow tree-climbers fall, quit, give up and I kept right on climbing.  The epiphany hit when I realized that what’s been bugging me for a couple of years now, has finally been identified: I’m no longer fearless.  In fact, I’d say that I’ve allowed my fears to overtake the real me.  The “real” Jane climbed to the very top of that tree on a windy day, wrapped herself around the trunk and joyfully and fearlessly gave in to the wind.

I often think back to my childhood, trying to get a feel for what I was before life got ahold of me.  What was the essence of me, when I was able to just “be”.  What moved me, excited me, soothed me, motivated me.  What moves me today, as a 51 year-old woman?  The tree-climber in me has been M.I.A; I’ve lost my fearlessness.

I don’t fear day to day dangers, like crime, pain, mistakes, accidents.  I fear the big stuff:  death, poverty, losing all I’ve worked for, dying alone.  What happened to the tree climber?

Here’s the bottom line about being fearful; it makes you powerless.  When you allow fear to take over, you cede your power; to politicians, to a job you hate, to family members, to children, to boredom, to repetition and authority.  It’s easier to hunker down and not feel or face your fear.  Chalk it up to being a grown-up in this big, bad world.

So, what to do?  That, my friends is an excellent question that I can’t answer.  So, step number 1:  I’m heading out to find a tree and wait for the wind.

April 10, 2011 Posted by | Musings | , , , , | 11 Comments


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