When my parents moved me to our second house, I was instantly drawn towards a hundred year old maple tree in the back yard. As the years went by, the tree became my inspiration, my childhood joy, and the one spot I would always run to whenever I needed a good cry. I would often imagine being hugged and comforted by it’s sheltering arms, an imaginary comfort throughout all the times I felt alone.
On various occasions, I would talk to the tree. Trusting it with my deepest and darkest secrets, my hopes, my dreams, my fears. A trusted confidant. The ideal listener. A faithful friend that can’t run away. A connection that I knew would always be there, patiently waiting, almost anticipating, if not lovingly commanding my return.
The inspiration the tree selflessly gave me eventually lead me to refer to it as my dreaming tree. As I grew, I would lay in the grass beneath the tree and gaze up into it’s lofty branches. I would dream of how my life and love would be. Sometimes for just a few precious moments, on other occasions, for hours at a time. Remembering my mothers words when I told my parents I wanted to be a writer and my mom encouragingly asking me what I wanted to write about.
As the years went by, I would take shelter from the hot summer sun sitting at the base of the tree and write in my notebook. When I couldn’t get the words to come out, I would take a break from my writing to stand upon the cluster of roots, sometimes walking in circles around the tree, my hand gently dragging against the aged and weathered bark.
As I grew, my childhood dreams we no longer hollow; I fell in love, I found my purpose, I went away in hopes of turning my dreams into reality.
I will never forget the day my mom called me on the phone to let me know that my dreaming tree had died and it needed to be taken down. I begged her to at least leave the stump behind so that I would remember the exact spot where my dreaming tree once stood.
I returned as soon as I could, after the tree was removed, and said to myself, here stood my dreaming tree, staring at the ground covered in fresh sawdust and the lifeless stump surrounded by thriving green grass. Once again I tried to comprehend and visualize what it would look like if it were still there, overcome with emotion as I imagined how the tree had leaned over as it died as if its sheltering arms were reaching out in sadness and sorrow that the young girl had grown and left it behind. The dreaming tree had died and all that was left was nothing more than a figment of my imagination that it was still standing, much like a little ghost for the offering.
I wasn’t there one morning when my father passed away, one February morning. My father dreamed that one day his only child, a daughter, would be successful, and always insisted that I attend the finer schools to give me the best chance at life. He had kept a childhood drawing I had made of the tree that I so admired, though I will never know for sure if he was ever aware of it’s true significance. I’m sure my father knew how much my dreaming tree meant to me, but of course, he never told me.
The child who grows up an outcast and different is the one who daydreams beneath their own special tree, of castles and kings and fabulous places far far away, who will ultimately go on to be extremely successful at life.
The header image came from a previously posted photograph, Here Stood My Dreaming Tree.