Remember when you were a child, and a tree was a wondrous being of dappled light and swaying shadows on sticky summer afternoons? Remember the feel of barkskin and sap stinging the palms of your hands, the soles of your feet. The sharp green scent of leaves rustling all around you as you climbed the branching ladder of the tree’s many arms.

Remember how you loved that tree, how you loved who you were, curled in the nest of its canopy. Remember how you loved the world beneath you, a magic carpet undulant with promise, the wind swinging you high in your hammock of green and gold.

That tree was home and beauty, outlook and adventure, a sailing ship on a sea of sky. It was Tree. Its whispers lingered in your dreams, those fragrant nights of childhood summer.

When did tree’s glory dim and recede? It remains true to itself — taller, fuller, stouter, but still tree. What’s changed, in your relationship with it?

When did you slip into the story in which tree is resource, to be managed, cultivated, exploited for its timber or its bark? When did it become a precursor to paper, to firewood, to the frame of your house, the turned legs of your dining room table? Or one more thing you are responsible for — leaves to be raked in the fall, branches to be pruned in early spring.

When did you stop loving Tree for its tree-ness? When did you stop loving yourself for your self-ness?

Can you trace the pathways by which this happened? When did you slip into the story in which you — your beauty, your joy, your eager heart, your creative blaze — became a repository for desires not your own; a screen for the projections of society and culture.

When did you allow a half-blind world to describe you to yourself?

What strange, reverse alchemy transformed you from beloved to resource — to be exploited, tamed, cultivated, packaged? Even — especially — by you?

Stop. Turn around. Retrace your steps. Climb back into the tree of your being, feeling your own rough bark, your sticky sap, in the palms of your hands, on the soles of your feet. Discover the secrets of your hidden chambers, your musk and music, your seasons of longing, your surging desires, your shivering joys.

Who are you, O creature of love and music, of branching arms and sunburnt hair?

This is your journey. Back to yourself. Back to loving heartwood and sap, bark and leaf, ear-shell, blood-tide, breath-wind, galvanized skin on muscular flesh. You.