I stood out on my front porch this afternoon marveling at the blue sky, the breeze, and the dancing tops of the trees. I remembered many a day such as this in my youth when that's exactly where I would be.

I'd be in the top of a tree riding the wind like a rodeo cowboy on a wooden stick horse that was connected to the ground. It was great fun. It was great exercise. Yet, it is far too dangerous for anyone to dare attempt today, especially a child.

Somewhere in the middle of keeping our kids safe we killed their spirit of adventure. I promise you a kid climbing a tree today would get a much bigger rush than he would by finding the princess at the end of a video game.

First there is the energy involved in hoisting ones body up off the ground to that first limb. That gets the blood pumping and the muscles moving. The connection between physical activity and mental activity has been proven. They both coexist together to form a well conditioned, fine tuned thinking machine.

Then comes the puzzle, much like the video game, of choosing which limb to climb onto next. The climber must plot two or three limbs ahead to make sure that the choice of the next limb will allow him access to the second and third limb. The strategy comes from knowing which limbs are strong enough to support the weight of the climber. They must also be positioned in such a way that the climber can gain altitude without over-stressing or stretching the arms and legs.

After a few minutes of picking and choosing great climbing limbs there comes that first look outward toward the horizon. The world is much different from up here. Suddenly everything that seemed impossible is magically closer than it was before.  The mind is opened up to new possibilities. The boundaries of Earth have been broken and the climber is now at home among the birds.

When you're perched high in the top of a mighty oak tree, the wind is your thrill ride. The bigger the gust the deeper the sway. The deeper the sway the more exhilarating. It is at  this point in the climb the climber begins to feel a kinship with nature. He is nestled in the safety of the tree, riding the wind, feeling the sunlight, and enjoying the moment.

At any given moment the tree could become a rocket ship, a hostile planet, a mountain top, or therapist's office. The mind tends to free itself of earthly woes and opens up to the imagination. In these quiet moments the climber finds a friend deep within himself. This is where kids like me learned self-reliance.  It is in these times alone with oneself the climber begins to understand that his hopes, dreams, and ambitions are attainable. To those who look from the ground there is insanity. To the climber there is freedom.

For just a few moments on a breezy, clear day there is clarity. The world is not defined by the rules of others. It is defined by those who dare to push the envelope. It is defined by those who would dare to take the road less taken. It is defined by those who would reach for the sky fueled by imagination.

What might have looked like an idiot in a tree to the participants in my youth was not a crazy person out on a limb after all. That body leaning into the wind was simply someone wanting and needing more than the definitions that others had placed on him.

There are a lot of tree climbers that lurk among you today. We are the ones that sit quietly in a crowd and rarely want the spotlight pointed in our direction. We are not afraid of it, we just don't need it.  We are the ones that allow feelings to run too deeply. We hurt for strangers and want so much more for those we know.  We'd rather see you smile first so that we might smile last.

If this particular narrative has reminded you of someone you know, I hope you'll ask them. "Did you climb trees when you were a kid?" Don't be surprised if they get a far off look in their eye, a wistful smile on their lips and answer yes with barely a nod of their head.

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