The Dreaming Tree


When I was young, my friends and I built a tree house. It was something to behold. We thought it was a mansion, but looking at it now, it seems a bit crude. It was probably about 20 feet off the ground, although it seemed like a hundred. Man, did we have some times up there. Those guys were, and still are, my best friends. Like the Little Rascals, this was a man house. No girls allowed. We had a secret password, special initiation rites, and a secret stash of Playboy magazines.

One day while I was goofing around, I fell out. My mother had warned me about this possibility, much like Ralphie's mother, in The Christmas Story, warned him about shooting his eye out with his new Daisy BB gun. Wouldn't you know it. I hit pretty much on my back. It knocked the wind out of me, so I was kind of like out for a minute or two. I never was completely sure what was going on, but I'll tell you the tale as best I can remember it.

I seemed to be awake. I was lying on my back looking up into the tree. I don't remember seeing the tree house at all. The tree was moving, the branches weaving back and forth, in and out of one another, and each branch was a different color. The leaves were also each a different color. The whole scene seemed like a fabulous fireworks display. I was so engrossed in watching the colors that I at first didn't hear the tree speak to me. The first words I heard were "Are you alright?" I remember thinking maybe my mother had arrived, or one of my friends. But there was no one else around. "That was a heck of a fall." Right at one of the forks in the tree, there was a knot, which seemed to be voicing the words. As odd as the story is, this didn't seem peculiar to me at the time. "You need to be a bit more careful." Now it started to sound like my mother, but still no mother in sight. "You could have broken your back, neck, legs, if I hadn't caught you." Okay, so the tree is talking to me. "You guys sure have a wild time up there. I kind of like the company. I caught you with my branches. It's no big deal, but I'd like you to do something for me." I said that seems fair, what would you like me to do? The tree bent down towards me and whispered, "When the time comes, you will remember this. Until then, don't say a word to anyone. You and I are both the same. We both struggle with the dream."

That was it. I opened my eyes and everything felt okay. Nothing broken, no bad damage that I could tell, other than I was a bit sore. I didn't dare tell my mother, or the guys, who would have only laughed. I really never thought much about the whole incident until recently. I think the tree trimming that AmerenIP did to our front tree brought the incident back into my conscious memory. The mangled tree AmerenIP left us with made me sad, which I couldn't quite understand. I mean, I like trees and all, but this was beyond normal. I cussed the guys doing the cutting, which is not like me.

The importance and sacredness of trees have always held an important position in our cultural mythologies and anthologies. Buddha found enlightenment under the bodhi tree. The Eastern Federation of Native Americans met under a sacred tree in northern New York. The Garden of Eden story features several trees. The branches leading skyward, and the roots grounded in the soil, securing the tree through all sorts of turmoil and problems, have always spoken to us. It ends up trees and humans are a lot alike.

I never try to make too much out of any life circumstance, but I have given some thought to the old tree house over the past several months. "We both have the same dream." Now what would that dream be? Is this just more baby boomer babble, or is this something I need to pay attention to? Is this something we all need to pay attention to? What could a dumb old talking scrub tree possibly have to say to me that would be worth remembering?