Go Climb a Tree


Nature is a dominant theme in my writing, and I think it is so because it has been my most constant companion. Wherever I go, I can find it:

In the city or in the country,
in the sky or on the ground,
look, listen, and feel—
Nature is all around.

And when I do find it, even if it’s only a few blades of grass sticking through a crack in a concrete sidewalk, it brings me peace.

I think that’s because I grew up in the outdoors. As a child, I was deeply connected to nature—in tune with the environment around me. I played outside so often that I could tell it was dinnertime just by seeing the shape of the shadows from the sun. Who needed a watch when you had Mother Nature? She ran better than any old Timex.

When I climbed a tree as a kid, the only thing I thought about was getting up the tree. If I grab that branch with this hand and pull up, then my foot can go right there.

My mind had a singular focus, clear of all other distractions. I wasn’t thinking about the pile of homework waiting for me in my room or why my softball coach moved me down in the batting order. My focus was simple—get up that tree.

I don’t climb as many trees as I use to, but nature still has that effect on me. Nature reminds me to take a few breaths and calm my mind of all the extraneous worries keeping me from accomplishing the task at hand.

When I find that I’m overwhelmed by the to-do list running through my head, I leave my cell phone on the table and step outside. Five minutes, that’s all it takes (well, maybe ten if it’s a particularly difficult day).  My technique is simple: I find one natural element and give it my full attention:

An ant crawling up the wall,
birds flying up high,
a leaf about to fall,
or a cloud slowly passing by.

When my mind stops racing
and I can describe
the way ants are marching
in one long line,

I count to three
now knowing,
just breath …
breath …

I’m ready to go inside.

Originally posted on 9/13/2013 on blogspot.com

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