I love climbing trees. I love the pre-climb inspection, looking at it from different angles, examining the structure, imagining and planning my path through the tree and visualizing the successful completion of the work at hand, before even leaving the ground. There is a certain child-like wonder that allows us to appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of each and every tree.
My favourite part of the climb is the initial ascent, getting to the top to get tied in, before the saws and chipper are running. I always try to pause and take it all in – the sights and sounds, the peaceful oneness with nature, the feeling of coming back home.
The experience of climbing to the top of a tall tree is surreal. The perspective at the top looking back toward the Earth helps me to appreciate the simple things that are so often taken for granted. I have the best adventures in trees.
When everything just clicks, I seem to reach a state of flow. I describe it as meditative: my ability to be here now, fully immersed in the moment, at one with this tree and these ropes. For a short time, this tree becomes my world and I know my place in it.
In many ways, I believe climbing requires this ability, this total immersion, this surrender to something larger than yourself. I think back to climbs in the past where I was not able to be fully immersed, where my conscious brain continued over-analyzing, thinking and re-thinking every little decision, or dealing with day to day problems that should have been set aside when I left the ground. These are the times when I have had the most problems aloft. When I am in that state of flow however, my intuition takes over. I find myself doing the right things automatically, seemingly without thought or analysis. There have been countless times when I have “come to”, as if out of a daydream, to find myself whistling a tune, and I wonder, what have I been doing for the last 10 or 15 minutes? Apparently I have been making the right decisions, everything is going smooth and the work is progressing along nicely. But it feels like I was on auto-pilot. At some point, my subconscious took control, guiding my actions through muscle memory and instinct and produced the results I was desiring.
I have heard recreational climbers refer to “tree time”, of completely losing track of time as they enjoy a tree and take it all in, realizing when they finally come down that a couple of hours have passed in what felt like 20 minutes. And it is this same feeling that I experience regularly in the fast paced world of production tree work.
I have heard it said that when you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. I might not take that quite so literally, but I can honestly say that I wouldn’t want to do anything else. Tree work is so varied, it never gets old. We work in a different location on a daily basis, no two days are the same, every tree is different, unique, special. Our line of work holds the promise of real, genuine job satisfaction, and that is something that very few people can say.
Climb High, Work Smart, Read More.
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