July 2, 2024

It was Wishes I Gave Her.

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The wishing tree lay fallen on her side.

Once stretching to the heavens, emerald leaves hiding monkeys from view, she now sprawled across the jungle floor. Branches grown twisted for the safekeeping of birdnests now down-spiraled into dirt. Every uplifted bough had smashed through the younger, smaller trees, splitting them in pieces as feathers floated out and fluttered down.

How mighty the thud must have been.

The wishing tree once stood tall—taller than we ever knew. Cows grazed leaves that once only clouds kissed. Her base was so wide, a dozen people could have ringed around her. Perhaps once they did, hand in hand and chanting, ages ago, before the road was there.

She would have had a couple hundred years as a celebrated Ceiba, a sacred tree, so the locals say. They say the Ceiba tree is the link between worlds, its roots planted amongst us humans and its branches guarding the heavens.

I often drove past the wishing tree, heading toward another favorite local beach, the road bending around her. Admiring her greatness—and she was great—my eyes could never take in her full height and width.

With every pass, I’d speak to her. Hands on the wheel, I’d let slip words of gratitude for whatever was working out for me at that moment. Often, there is so much that weighs or troubles us, gratitude is a helpful switch of gears. Sometimes, I would just voice gratitude for the beautiful day itself.

But mostly, it was wishes I gave her.  

Rounding her trunk, I’d make a wish. Words in wish form that would boost a manifestation I was leaning into. Wishes to partner with my hopes. Wishes to sidesaddle my prayers. Wishing for ancient tree magic to bring my wish forth and make it real.

That’s what the wishing tree did: carried our wishes from the earth to the skies.

Think of every wish, playing within the veiny patterns of her leaves, unfolding, forming, and then falling. Wishes pulsing through her inner trunk, down through her roots, and then up…up…up through the highest branch, traveling through each bendy stem to the plump green tip when the wish lifts itself airborne into the currents of our sky, rising through clouds, piercing the atmosphere, and finally perching amongst the stars, sparkling into life.

I wonder if that’s what caused her fall—the weight of all those wishes. Surely, there is no shortage of us wish-makers, sending up our prayers, our hopes, and our asks for help. I wonder what the last wish was.

Was it a wish so exhausting and laborious for her that she clocked out? As with camels, was it a wish that broke the giant tree’s back and tilted her over with a resounding crash?

Or was the last wish a wish so perfect, so desperately important, that it took every bit of her timber to dutifully rocket the wish to a place it would be granted? A wish worth her sacrifice.

When I heard she had fallen, I felt drawn to see her. To pull my car to the side of the road and walk next to her. Sideways, her trunk and exposed roots were taller than me. It made me feel sad and small. Where will I send my wishes now, was a thought that flitted through my mind.

Of course, in this world, we use more than one medium to navigate life’s chaos in pursuit of joy. We reach for new learning, patience, and discipline amongst other tools, to achieve our desires. But wishing helps too.

She wasn’t my tree to mourn, but I felt a loss just the same. Nothing in this life is permanent, I know. But there comes a sadness when the sturdy, ever-constant, and warmly familiar is suddenly gone.

“Gone” is not correct. She wasn’t gone, only changed. Even though she lay there, branches torn and crushed, the mammoth tree horizontal and broken with her last wish sent, there was a peace about her.

Looking past her, I noticed other trees beyond in the jungle still climbing on their slow journey up. Her kinfolk and tribe, no doubt, roots likely once twisted amongst hers in the dirt, their branches once mingled with hers in mirth or strife.   

Wishing trees in the making.

I ran my hand along her rugged bark and turned to go. Perhaps there had been a last wish for her, but with another glance at the crowding, younger trees vibrantly rising, I knew it hadn’t been the last wish for us.

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