Have you ever wanted something so bad that you could feel it, almost taste it?
For years and years and I do mean years, I have had this dream of a swing. Even when I was out in Seattle for Oprah’s Live Your Best Life Weekend last Fall, I had the same dream resurface. Oprah took us through a visualization series at the very end of the weekend asking us to close our eyes and walk through our childhood, teenager years and adulthood visualizing our life and ultimately what we want out of the rest of our lives. Most saw big houses, big dreams, big lives… What did I see? As corny as it sounds, I saw myself on a swing, leaning back, arms outstretched from the rope with my hair flowing behind me and wind in my face, swinging high from the branches of an oak tree. Clear as day, this was my vision. Oprah just kept repeating as you leave here today, “Let every step move you in the direction of your vision… and btw,…you have one year to make it happen!”
I walked away from that weekend with the realization that I HAD to make the “tree swing” happen. A conquest of sorts! For months afterwards, I would stare out into our backyard and look at our aspens and maple trees and think how can we build a swing off of these trees. My husband would quickly point out that it was not technically possible to hang a swing from any of our trees and to get over it (men just have a way of keeping the emotion out of it and just stating the cold, hard facts…ugh). Not one to be deterred, my solution to this painful realization was buying him a stand-alone hammock for Father’s Day! There you have it… a swing! Did that satisfy my deepest desire? Not a chance! I continued to stew on it and would quietly steal moments each week in search of “land” in the hopes of getting a real swing. Mind you it was never a big house on land that was the dream, it was just a tree and a swing on land. = )
Fast forward to this summer, it seemed like everywhere I would turn, a tree would show up in my life. Here is just one of many examples. We went to visit my husband’s family in Florida and we pulled into a rest stop and after waking from a nap, I looked up to see the most magnificent, amazing tree and I thought, gosh, that sure looks like an oak tree from Kansas. I shook my head and quickly dismissed the possibility. A couple hours later, we pull up to my in-law’s new house and immediately are drawn to the water that surrounds the backside of their house. We go around back and what is standing there just by the water? – the very same type of tree we had seen earlier that day. An “awe” moment! Mind you, I don’t think it was divine intervention of having trees come into my life at just the right moment – you would be calling me crazy! I just had a heightened awareness of majestic trees that could potentially have a swing on them! Better yet, with each and every glimpse of a tree, I would picture myself climbing a ladder putting up a rope on the highest of branches for the swing. I know such a wild and crazy imagination at work. I immediately asked my in-laws what type of trees these are, referencing my earlier thought that they look a lot like oak trees but couldn’t be because of the Spanish moss hanging from them and oaks can’t possibly grow in Florida where palm trees are amass. My mother-in-law says, “they are called Live Oaks”. I couldn’t believe it, I was flabbergasted! They really were oak trees – what I had always envisioned in my dream and had grown up with. What are the odds that my in-laws would move all the way from Pennsylvania to Florida and my ideal trees are sitting in their backyard?! Of course, I did what I always do during moments like this, I ran and grabbed the camera (of course, “ran” is an overstatement in a shoe boot but you get the idea). It was more like me dragging my foot behind me with a limp, clumsily holding my camera, changing out the lens, trying to get back to the yard to get a picture of these beauties before the storm set in. The visual I thought makes the story just a little bit more interesting…I know.. get to the point already!
When we got home from our Florida trip, I looked out in the backyard and thought once again, there has got to be a way to get a swing in our backyard, time is a ticking and I only have a couple of months to make this happen, let’s get creative. Could we build one without a tree, maybe from an arbor, how about a free standing porch swing? The full gambit of every possible contraption went through my mind with the end result being the same…It’s not happening…no way, no how, it’s just not in the cards…sigh…
So I went back to doing what I always do, diverting attention to other things and just getting back to life…and there they go again showing up in my life… those darn trees taunting me again. This time is different though… I finally get the point of it all! Flipping through the pictures from our Florida trip, a picture of the oak trees popped up onto the computer screen. Feeling like forgetful Dory from Finding Nemo, I had completely spaced off that I had taken the picture of the oak trees so was surprised to see them staring back at me. I sat thinking to myself for quite some time, why are trees and having a tree swing so important to me? Why do I continue to fixate on this whole idea and feel like I must have a tree swing?
In a moment of pure will and determination, I thought, one way or another, I am getting myself a tree swing. I quickly shut down the photo program and reopened another program and pulled up the picture of the trees again. I see in the bottom right hand corner of the photo, a set of wooden posts marking the edge of my in-laws’’ property. With the magic of the mouse, I move one of the wooden post over and under one of the trees and turn it on its side and then duplicate the Spanish moss hanging down from the tree and elongate it and place it on either side of the wood post. I run an artistic watercolor filter over the whole photo and lean back realizing what I had just created…an impressionistic scene of a set of trees with none other than a swing hanging from its branches! And there in the blink of an eye, my dream came true. I had just conquered my vision!
I realized sitting there staring out at this set of trees “in someone else’s backyard” that as much as I had always wanted it to be about the land and about having a tree with a swing, I knew deep within my heart that it was really never about the tree or the swing. It was always something that was within me. It was the feeling the tree and the swing gave me that I was after all those years – the feeling of being alive, feeling the wind on my face and feeling the joy of the moment.
In the picture above, I proudly stand holding my brainstorm creation of a “tree swing”. The plan is to frame it and hang it right above my office desk and have it serve as a daily reminder to embrace life by living to the fullest, to feel and take notice of the wind on my face and know that the feeling that I had been chasing for all those years has been right there within me the very whole time.
I realized in that moment that the tangible, outside of ourselves, is ever changing and fleeting. What you feel and hold dear in the depth of your soul cannot be taken from you so long as you craft your days and moments in the direction of that feeling you want to ascertain.
So why am I sharing this rather rambly, long winded story with you… simply because, I want you to find your “swing” too and not take as long as I did to figure out how to get it.
What’s the “thing” that you have always visualized in your life? How does it make you feel? Go out and seek the intrinsic gift not the “thing”. If you are seeking love, live a life of love. If you are seeking friendship, “be” a friend first to yourself and then to others. You get the point. Go after what is innately within you and find a way to fulfill your longings within and they will as a result come pouring out of you so you can share with others. Others will feel that fulfillment and will seek it for themselves. And please, when you find your “tree swing”, please share and tell me all about it!
Keep your dreams alive as they are your deepest longing and greatest gifts waiting to be opened and revealed. Dream away everyone!
P.S. This is how I know that life has a way of leading you down a path where you take notice of something that seems to another as mundane but only has special meaning for you. Last night, sitting down to a late dinner about to celebrate my birthday with my family, my husband comes up from the basement with a bottle of wine that he had randomly picked up….I see the bottle sitting on the counter and I walk over to it and see these words on the label, “the Dreaming Tree”. In that instant, I just know…that’s me, that’s my story…I’m the dreaming tree! And, then I read the cork, “standing here the old man said to me, long before these crowded streets here stood the dreaming tree…” I just smiled and sighed with happiness and there I stood.
P.S.S. that I just had to add in: A dear friend sends a text this morning after reading this post and says did you see the cover of the book, Nobody’s Cuter than You, that you sent me? I couldn’t recall the picture on the cover so I went running for the book and lo and behold, the front cover is embossed with a drawing of two friends each sitting on a tree swing!! Happy tears and chills ran down my spine!