Tree Problems

An Essay By Raine // 1/11/2008

At one time this last summer, I had an epiphany of an unusual kind. Or rather, in an unusual place.

It was probably early July when I found myself getting a little crazy, sitting in the house with a book on my lap. I couldn't focus and I didn't want to focus. So I gave up, threw my books down and went outside. I wandered around for awhile, enjoying the fresh wind. Then I decided to climb a tree. I circled the tree for a moment, looking for the best place to start. I slipped my shoes off, and leaping up, caught hold of a branch, swung myself to the next and began clambering up. At one point I had to hug the tree trunk, shinnying up winnie-the-pooh style. I climbed higher and higher, finally halting in a nice crooked branch, where I could sit and look over the yard. Soon though, I decided to come down. Upon starting, I realized...I was stuck!

In order to get down, I would have to almost leap from one branch to another, at a distance above the ground that looked just a bit too far. I sat there for a moment, looking around trying to see where my best route lay. I climbed a bit to the side, and a little bit higher up. Then found a branch below that I could lower myself down to. I was making progress! I braced my back against the tree trunk, my feet against an extra thick branch from another tree and started walking my way down. Then I slipped. I just caught another branch as I fell, jerking me to a quick stop. I hung there, my feet dangling in the air, trying to see how I could get out of this new predicament. And suddenly, I had that epiphany! Hanging there, stuck in that tree, I had an epiphany. I let go of the branch and dropped the eight feet to the ground. I rolled in the dry leaves at the bottom of the tree and sat up a little breathlessly, my shirt streaked with dirt and sap and green stains from the tree. Then I ran into the house and started writing.

My epiphany went something like this.

Solving a problem is like climbing a tree.

When you come to a problem, you look at it. It seems really huge, and you really don't want to tackle it. But you know you have to.

You walk around it for a little while, eyeing it tentatively, trying to figure out the best way to start working on it.

You get right up to it and start working on it. Only you barely get started and you realize, this approach is not going to work. So you back up and start circling again.

Aha! There it is, the perfect way to start on this problem. Only it's going to take a bit of effort to get there. You brace yourself, take a flying leap and catch hold of it. You start going up and up, solving more and more of the problem as you go.

Then you reach a time or place when you can't go any further. The only way to go is backwards. So you slide backwards, grumbling all the while. Then suddenly you see that bit that you missed, the part of the problem you should have taken care of a long time ago. You grab onto it and find yourself moving onwards and upwards again!

You slip a few times, scraping your hands. But the important thing is to hang on and keep going.

Pretty soon though, you can't go in that direction any more. When you climb a tree, you eventually run out of tree. The next step is to climb down.

You put out a hand, trying to feel your way down. Looking down is just a bit scary, you realize you came a lot farther than you expected! You're not quite sure what to do now.

You get stuck, here and there, and you just have to sit and wait. Wait until you notice some route that would work perfectly.

You even fall sometimes, but you manage to catch yourself. And there, you see the end of the problem! It's right there, waiting for you.

When you reach the end of the problem, you turn around and look at that solved problem, feeling relief and just a little bit of triumph. You're dirty, your hands are scraped, there are leaves in your hair. But you did it! You solved the problem.

Just like trees...there are some problems you can't handle by yourself.

Like trees, there are some problems that you'll have to wait till you grown a bit, before you tackle them.

Like trees...there are some problems that weren't ever meant to be solved.

Like trees, there are some problems that will really hurt you. Leave you scraped and bruised and bleeding.

Like trees, there are many problems that are a whole lot easier to deal with then they first appear.

Just like trees, there are some problems that entertwine with other problems.

Like trees, the important thing with problems is to keep on going when you get stuck, no matter how scared you may be.

And just like trees...some problems can be great fun to solve!

I think I'll have to remember that...



I love it Raine!

~Sarah H

Anonymous | Sun, 01/13/2008


I love it Raine!

~Sarah H

Anonymous | Sun, 01/13/2008

Good work! I like

Good work! I like it.

Megan | Mon, 01/14/2008


Good place for an epiphany

I enjoyed reading this, and wondered "Did she really have an epiphany at that very moment?" I will believe you if you say so. Having heard your epiphany I think about trees differently, too. Are trees actually problems made visible? "Problem Trees Take Root" (I can just see the newspaper headline). Your essay challenges me to work out my problems and not let their very height daunt me. Maybe the first problem with problems is that they are often invisible, so they seem larger. Mapping it out in one's mind is a good start.

Keep on writing, Raine. I look forward to reading your posts.

Ben | Wed, 01/30/2008


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