When I was a girl, I’d often climb the tree in our backyard in Iowa.
“I’ll go first,” I’d say to Matt, my bestie whose red hair stuck up in all the right places.
“I’ll just watch,” he’d say, flopping down on his belly, propping his head up with his hands.
“Wow!” he’d say every now and then as I swiftly scaled each branch, climbing higher and higher.
Once I got to the top, I’d forget about Matt, and the rest of the world, and the things that troubled my heart. My sole focus was the feeling of the sun on my face and a connection to something bigger than myself.
After a while, I’d climb down to tell Matt about the remarkable things I saw from up there.
I’d nearly forgotten about the girl in the tree. She surfaced about thirty years later, in a moment of complete desperation when I needed a new view, a divine connection, a certainty that my story was not yet over. Once I recovered her, I never let her get lost again.
I eventually told people about her. It was a group of fifty people who had come to the redwoods of California to uncover what they’d lost, forgotten, or abandoned. That same day, one of them took this photo of me looking up at the 1200-year Redwood, known as the Mother Tree.
That tree was so tall I couldn’t see the top. I remember thinking:
I need to tell people about this.
When I sat down at my computer the next morning to write about it, I hesitated. I wondered if maybe it was one of those things you had to be there for – like a joke that falls flat when you tell it after the fact.
But then I remembered a quote that’s driven me throughout my healing journey.
It was said to me during an interview at a coffee shop that took place very early in my pursuit to live a less distracted life. A twenty-something editor for a trendy local magazine asked me how my journey had begun. I hesitantly described how my daughter Avery kissed my palm when I’d chosen connective presence over productivity, efficiency, distraction, fear, approval, and control.
I held my breath thinking the young editor wouldn’t get it.
With tears in her eyes, she leaned in and said, “I love creating artwork, and I rarely give myself time to do it… but your story brings to mind the last art I made using the words of novelist, Jon McGregor. ”
“If no one speaks of remarkable things, how they can be called remarkable?”
The young woman offered this quote as information; as validation of my story, but I took it as a challenge, as a promise.
Which is why I did not abandon this story and resumed typing it for you…
Because the reality is, as we grow farther and farther away from childhood, the demands and stresses of life increase. We forget we have the power to say yes to what delights our heart and soul, makes us feel alive, and brings us peace. But in order to live as our most joyful, authentic selves, we must remember.
And we can do this by speaking of remarkable things, the moments that fill our eyes with tears … blanket us in peace… connect us to another human being on a soul level.
Pay attention to those moments. Because they are telling you something deeply important about yourself. Even more, such moments are whispering something about the kind of offering you are here to make in this world.
When I got home from California, my daughter wasn’t feeling well and was having trouble falling asleep.
So, I told her about the tree and how quiet everyone got when I played her song JUST BE. I told Avery I could feel a shift happening as people’s weights and worries fell to the ground.
“That story makes me feel better,” she whispered back, unable to contain her smile.
I wasn’t in a tree, but I had a glorious view through the lens of love.
I knew I would need to speak of it.
Because if nobody speaks of remarkable things, how can they be called remarkable?
How can they stick like a kiss on a hand?
How can they release damaging baggage that need not be carried one more day?
How can they find their way back to the person who helped you recover what you’d lost?
How can they grow towards the sky, reminding us of what can still be?
Rachel Macy Stafford has one goal: help people choose love as much as humanly possible. She is the New York Times best-selling author of Hands Free Mama, Hands Free Life, Only Love Today and Live Love Now. Rachel is also a certified special education teacher and inspiring speaker. Millions find solace and direction in her monthly blog posts at handsfreemama.com and in her supportive online community, The Hands Free Revolution.
Rachel’s work has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, TODAY, Global News, TIME, and other print and online media sources. She loves taking long walks, baking, and helping out at cat shelters and visiting nursing home residents. Rachel lives in the south with her husband and two daughters who inspire her daily.