This morning a friend and I went hunting on foot for a tower, the famous Sutro Tower in San Francisco to be exact. Despite being 100% socked in by fog, it was easy to find as we had our phones, and as such, a map of our walking path. We meandered up through a rare city forest, finding some sour blackberries and a bit of calm with each step. It was a nice little morning adventure made even better by the comfort of a good friend, and of course, that map.
Tonight, as the sun was setting, I set out on foot again for a different type of tower, a tree actually. This time I left the phone and the map at home, relying solely on a memory of a tree that my friends and I climbed a year prior (pictured here). I was getting ready to leave for dinner, with a nice dress and boots on, when I heard the call of this tree. It’s a familiar call, one I ignore more and more as I age, to simply wander and play. As I meandered around the expansive Golden Gate park wondering which way to go, I slowed down a bit from my normal pace. So slow in fact that I eventually heard something familiar in the far distance, the sound of batting practice. That tree was near the baseball fields, I recalled. Off to the fields I went and there, with rays of sunlight streaming through, was the tall and twisted cypress standing by itself on the edge of those fields.
I’m in the tree now writing all this, in fact. My boots are directly below me on the ground as I let my bare feet take me as high as my fearful adult mind would allow. I needed this. Needed to feel the bark solidly under my feet, a stark contrast to the uncertainty I’ve felt over the past few months. I’m so high I can see the tops of other trees and that’s where I am in my life right now, at a place higher than I’ve ever been and I’m scared to move. In the past I’ve always taken a running leap from these places, landing quickly on the other side, soaring past any fears and doubts or unknowns. Recently though, I’ve come to realize that I haven’t really learned much by running and leaping towards whatever finish line I’ve been seeking. So, here I am, wanting to do things differently but not really knowing how. Feeling all the fears and doubts that come with being in this place figuratively and literally (I am at the top of a tall tree, barefoot and in a dress no less). Certain there are parts of me exposed that would make some of those baseball players rather happy if they were to look my way.
Being in this playfully contemplative state, I start to wonder, does this tree, that I so eagerly climbed up, plot and plan as vigorously as I do when it wants to grow? I don’t think so. In fact, as I look further at the nature of this magnificent thing, I realize all it seems to be doing is following the rays of the sun. It’s roots are firmly planted in the ground so that it’s branches can fan out all around for people to climb, birds to land, and squirrels to jump on. It just grows, steadily, spiraling up. There’s no map it follows. No real destination. It just grows, slowly and surely and it will continue to do so for a couple hundred more years. Quite possibly this is my lesson here, to grow as a tree; get rooted in what’s necessary then steadily branch out towards the sun, one ray at a time. No comfort of a map or running leap needed. That seems to be what’s working for this very large and very beautiful tree. With that conclusion, it seems all I have to figure out now is how to climb down without making the moon come out.