Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My Life is a Tree, not a Path

"I sat this afternoon to read during the boys’ nap. I was going through the botanical theory book and while I was reading I remembered something Blue Horse said to me back before Gilbert was born. He said wisdom is not a path, it is a tree. At the time I was too busy to give it much thought, so I nodded politely but didn’t pay much attention. Now I see that he was surely right. I have been sad almost a whole year, thinking that taking that test was somehow the end of my learning and that not having that as a possibility in my future left a big empty spot in my life that the children and the ranch didn’t fill. But my life is not like that, it is a tree, and I can stay in one place and spread out in all directions, and I can do more learning shading this brood of mine that if I was all alone. I declare, it is like some other part of me made up some rules about happiness and I just went along with them without thinking. My heart in lightened so much that I am amazed at how sad I felt for so long.”

- Sarah Prine in "These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1091” by Nancy E. Turner, pg. 318.

I feel grounded

choked down by laundry, children, dishes,  covenants 

choices already made

Time is racing past me 

the march of degrees, careers, travel, experience

steadily passing me by 

like hikers on a mountain trail.

They get closer to the top,

  I am so far behind

How will I ever catch up? 

So I start planning.

A master's degree

 or a PhD?

(ancient studies, perhaps)

A career?

(a midwife)

Sounds nice.

My heart starts out,

that narrow, aspiring climb.

I feel the rush of an adventure,

 the exhilaration of a calling,

and the allure of that high mountain peak.

 Then I hear a familiar whisper,

 the hurried steps of little feet 

and I see that there  is not enough room on that path 

for more

Someone will be left behind


--and then--


So instead,

 I stay.

 Sending my roots deeper and deeper,


 by the lives of those who have gone before. 

  I stretch,


 my branches reaching higher 

and higher 

into the future.

Welcoming all who wish to rest,

giving life,  


(the librarian knows me by name)


(still typing long after everyone has gone to bed )

and expanding.

Let the  climbers pass me by.

 My life is not a path 

to be followed, planned or reached.

My life is a tree





My branches soar into the heavens

and reach wide as eternity.

That mountain peak is already

far below me,
and as I glance upwards

I see that my possibilities  for growth

are endless. 



  1. Heather, this is beautiful. So insightful. Thank you for giving me...someone whose children are all adults with children of their own...thank you for giving me cause to reflect on the choices that helped and are helping me find my roots and to enjoy the stretching and learning that comes with THIS time of my life. It's so easy to feel that we have become fenced in, rather than rooted with room to reach and grow.

  2. "there is not enough room on that path/for more/Someone will be left behind" Perfect. Exactly what I needed to be reminded of as I've wondered if I could do more than just be a stay at home mom.

  3. Heather, you have articulated something here that resonates with me -- deeply. I cannot tell you how many times I have felt exactly what you describe, and I thank you for putting words to why I can't follow those dreams (more school, career) right now. Maybe someday, but for now I need to make sure my tree is "rooted,/firm,/and constant." Beautiful poem.

  4. Gorgeous poem! Thank you so much for sharing. The rhythm of it reminds me of a mantra, somehow.

  5. This brings me to tears. Just what I needed to hear right now! Thanks Heather.

  6. Heather, that was beautiful!! Just as our littlest one hit kindergarten, I began thinking again of entering the path....it is always inside of me, even though I love my role immensely, I always want just a little more. Then the Lord sent me a reminder that He needed me somewhere else and that I still could not climb that path. My thoughts were brought back home. We brought a new life to our family and now he needs me here. Truth be told, so did the others. Someday I may actually learn the lesson the Lord has been teaching me. Home is where it is at. Thanks for the reminder!

  7. Beautiful Heather! This spoke to my heart! Right down to very details; Phd (ancient studies perhaps?) and the career (midwife?)!! I read a truly fantastic talk (Neal A. Maxwell) the other day as I was pondering this very thing. Here is the link: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1978/04/the-women-of-god?lang=eng it has come at a time when I need it the most.

    Thank you once again for sharing your heart!

  8. Ah yes. As women we know how to read deep but I think we need to remember to also be wide. :) Not in dress size.

  9. Wow, this really this really resonates with me! Thank you. And it's beautifully written. I loved the part from the quote, "I declare, it is like some other part of me made up some rules about happiness and I just went along with them without thinking." amen.

  10. Thank you so much for posting this! And the top quote came from one of my favorite books.

  11. Really beautiful Heather. Your talents keep amazing us-- who knew you were a poet?! Wonderful poem.

  12. loved it. you are making me remember that i used to like to read and write poetry. i think there is a great need for this kind of writing about motherhood, thank you for answering that need. now if you let me be an annoying editor type, at one point you used the word "past" when i think you mean "passed". but if it isn't what you mean and are using your poetic license, then pay no attention to me! after all, i can't even bother to capitalize my sentences :)

    1. Thanks Megan! It was a typo, it seems I am always rushing to get posts done at naptime or in the evening and so I don't proof read well :) Actually I noticed it was misspelled a few day ago and just didn't care enough to fix it right away--that is probably a weakness of mine I should work on :) But good thing it was poem because it could be poetic license right?

  13. This really resonates with me. So many of us have at times felt we were missing something only to find that what we really need is right in front of us--all we need to do is embrace it! My husband loved it as well.

  14. Recently found your blog. It is beautiful, and this is amazing.