The Tree House
Permission to Play.
This week’s Substack post is a bit different. I want to share a dream that I had a few nights ago, a dream about waiting for permission. I think I got this dream as a reflection of my current situation, as I have now ended the work contract with the university I used to work at as a lecturer. I intentionally ended this contract, as I want to take some time to focus my energy mainly on my other creative endeavors. This was not an easy decision. And at the same time, it was very simple: I love teaching, but something in me is calling me to teach in a different way. Maybe through my creations. Maybe just in a different context.
In this transitory period I notice that there are different sides in me battling for center stage. One side of me that immediately wants to jump into the next “stable” job, and another side of me that urges me to wait, and allow myself to be in this uncertain state for a little while still, to see what could grow out of this. So, amidst these tensions, I of course had a dream about trying to find a job.
I was a bit wary about sharing this, since some dream descriptions can be so personal that they lose their meaning for people who did not directly experience the dream. But in the end I chose to share this dream, since I think there may be some seeds in it that could be valuable for others too. So here it is.
I am looking for a job, and I have heard about a man who could help me. Maybe he could even give me a job in his company. He is an engineer, but he has reached that role without having attended any schools or educational institutions. I guess he is what you would call a self-made man, even though I find that concept a bit dubious. But that is how he is presented in my dream. And for some reason, this gives him even more respectability and prestige. He has done it all on his own.
This man lives in the middle of the forest, in a house that he has built into the crown of a tree. So I walk through the forest to get to the tree house. The forest is a mixed forest, with leaf trees, such as oaks and beech, but also spruce and pine. It is summer and the afternoon sun is shining brightly through the trees.
After walking for a while, I arrive at the foot of the large tree where the man has built his house. It is a leaf tree, but I am unsure what kind. It is so large that my arms cannot reach around it. I gaze up at the crown of the tree. There is no apparent way to reach the house. No elevator, no stairs, not even a rope down to the ground. But there are branches. So I start to climb up the tree, from branch to branch. Even though I am moving higher up, I am not afraid. I feel decisive and persistent. I really want to reach the top of the tree so that I can get a job from the man. This is the thought in my mind when I start the climb, but somewhere in the middle, my mind shifts into just enjoying the climb itself. I suddenly remember how I used to love climbing trees as a child, and that I always wished that I had my own tree house. This climb feels very similar to how it felt to climb trees as a child. The possibility of falling does not exist in my mind, the same way that it did not exist when I climbed trees as a child. I have complete trust in the tree, and in my ability to climb.
Finally, I arrive at the doorhole of the house (there is no door, just an opening into the house), and I step in. The house is made of wood, and from the inside it looks just like a simple, modern apartment, with a shared kitchen-living room with a wooden table in the center of the room. The walls are white, the furniture is made of a light wood. There is something strange about how empty the apartment is, it is almost as if no one is actually living there. But there is a printer/copy-machine next to one of the walls, and this gives the room a feeling of being an office, and not only a home. I understand that this must be the home office of the man. I suddenly feel excited: this would be quite a nice workplace. Maybe I can get a chance to work here? Through the open windows I can see the leaves of the tree, and the sun shines through them, painting the room with a golden light. There is no glass covering the windows, only openings out into the leaves and the sky around the tree house. Through the open windows I can hear the sound of the wind gently brushing against the branches and the leaves, creating a calming background melody. I enjoy being here. But the man is still nowhere to be seen, so I sit down by the table to wait.
The dream ended with me still waiting for the man to come, the man who would give me a job or give me permission to do my job. There was something curious about this dream, something that I wanted to explore further, so the next time that I could take a moment for myself, I decided to try to go back into that place through meditation. I have done this before a few times, intentionally returning to a dream that felt unfinished, in order to gain deeper understanding from it.
My process of entering a meditative state is quite simple. I sit down, close my eyes and try to relax my body, letting my body breathe the way it wants to. I never was able to relax by forcing myself to breathe “calmly”, instead what works for me is to let myself be just as I am in this moment, and let my body breathe the way it chooses to. Not to say that it is always easy to do this either… Sometimes letting yourself be as you are can be the most challenging thing to do. When I have settled down a bit, I call back my own energy, the energy that I need in order to be healthy and feel centered, and imagine a root from my spine going down into the earth, anchoring me into this planet, and this life. And then I imagine another root going upwards, from the crown of my head, into the sky and out into space. Connecting me to everything. By doing this, I feel that I am more able to receive wisdom that comes from somewhere beyond myself, or maybe from the depth of myself. Which one it is, I do not know, and it doesn’t really matter. When I feel that I am in a calmer state, I ask to see how the dream continues. In my mind I can see a door opening in front of me, and I step through. The door leads right back into living room/home office of the tree house.
I am back in the tree house, but there is still no man there. And now I understand that the man is never coming. Maybe he never even existed. He was simply a lure to call me to this place. Something that my mind could comprehend. He was a character that my mind created, based on the mental model of an entrepreneur that I have in my mind. More than simply being an entrepreneur, though, I think that he is a representation of a person who follows their own path. But now I can step into that role myself. The whole point was to get me here, and now I am here.
The reason why the tree house was so empty from the start was because no one was actually living in it yet. The tree house was waiting. It was there to be claimed. As I think these things, I can feel a gentle energy from the tree house, and realize that the tree house is alive. It is as though it is happy that I am finally here. I can feel a warm, welcoming energy all around me. I realize that the tree house was mine the moment that I climbed into it. By climbing it, I connected to it. It is a place for me to focus on my own work, but apart from being a home office, there is something playful about it. A tree house is a kind of home, but it is also a place for play. It can be a place where I do my own work, the work that my soul calls me to do. But it is a place for working in a way that is playful, enjoyable and inspiring.
I sit in the tree house for a while longer, enjoying the encouraging and inspirational energy all around me. Then I thank the tree house for this experience and leave the meditation.
The reason why I want to share this dream and mediation with you is to share the message I received from the tree house: We all have our own tree houses. Maybe your own tree house is still out there somewhere, waiting for you to climb into it. With this, I don’t mean that you have a physical tree house waiting for you (though that would be cool). The tree house is more like a metaphor for a state of being, a state of deep trust in the world. It is a space that represents the most playful and inspiring way that we can live our life. And for this, we do not need anyone else’s permission. We can give ourselves permission to be playful. We can give ourselves permission to do that which calls to us, if we only dare.
*The images are digital collages consisting of photographs and images of ai-generated tree houses generated with StableDiffusion and edited in Affinity Photo.
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