Step 1: take off your shoes
Step 2: feel the grass, simultaneously sharp and soft, weave a blanket with the soil underneath your feet.
Step 3: lift your hand, let the moss shift soundly into your palm, and hold the branch tightly.
Step 4: grab with your second hand and lift your leg and hoist yourself up like pirate hanging valiantly from mast.
Step 5: Climb.
There is a tree in my great grandmother’s yard. It is a magnolia, elegant and powerful. It stands like a duchess, a queen, completely outshining the dull demeanors of the tiny houses, common people, run-down docks, and weak-willed weeds that surround it. At each family gathering, I greet my relatives with a smile, sit down for a bite, and then retreat outside to its glorious presence. This time of year, its flowers have taken to dropping their petals, leaving skeletons of blooms littered among the leaves, yet still, it is beautiful.
I climbed it again last weekend. The familiar route straight towards the heavens filled me with nostalgia, and my heart was instantly full. It was quiet. It was safe. I climbed maybe four feet up, then five, then ten, then fifteen, before I finally found the perfect branches. I dangled my legs over the first branch, then shifted to my side. My legs were bare (I was wearing a green sundress that blended in beautifully with the leaves), so I could feel the bark pressing roughly onto my skin. It was course and it left marks on my flesh, yet still, it was beautiful.
On the second branch, slightly higher than the first, I rested my back, my neck, my head, and let my right arm swing softly in the air while my left served as a soft pillow. I looked precarious – suspended high over ground, eyes closed in a dream-like state, not holding on to a single vine or twig – but I felt sturdier, stronger, more secure than I had ever been. I trusted the friction that my legs created to hold me steady, I trusted my body to be strong enough to be still, and most of all, I trusted the tree that cradled me in its powerful arms. I laid there. I rested. I found peace.
Tree naps, in my humble opinion, are one of the most effective ways that one can recharge. We are consumed by schoolwork, stress, messy social lives, teenage angst, industrialized everything, capitalized media, technological overloads, unrealistic standards (the list goes on)… It can be so difficult to even consider the thought of including tranquility in our chaotic lives. However, burnout is real. If you are constantly spending, and spending, and spending your energy, then what’s left? Who do you become? In my experience, I become nothing but pure exhaustion, fatigue, and apathy. When this happens, there is a simple remedy that I highly recommend. Find a good tree. Follow the steps listed above. Rest. Feel the sun warming your skin, feel the coolness of the patches of shadow casted by the limbs above you, feel the peace of nature (as cheesy as it may sound), trust in your own strength and stability, and allow yourself to heal.