In 2001, I was at a very interesting place in life.
I had just returned home from a life-changing year in Australia- my first trip ever out of the country- and it had been magical. In that year I had experienced so much kindness, generosity, serendipity, luck, love, and connection.
Most magical of all, I had met and fallen head-over-heels in love with a gorgeous Swedish backpacker who (as you may already know) is now my gorgeous husband. I had had quite a year.
After this incredible time, returning home alone felt sudden and disorienting. The “Real World” was alive and well and I no longer had any idea how to fit into it.
Unsure about my future- with my love, my career, or my life in general- I felt confused and strangely hungover from the whole experience.
The epic journey had quite seriously turned my life upside down and it was all I could do just to try to make sense of the world I was coming back to. I had no idea where I was going next or how any experience could ever top the one I’d just had.
What remained with me was a deeper sense of the ideas of fate, wonder, connection and- yes- magic. I was deeply craving meaningful experience and connection in a way that made me feel painfully vulnerable.
My skin felt like little more than a sheer veil- similar to the one I felt separating the me in this practical and “real” world from the me who had been living for the last year in what now seemed like a mythical dream world. There were two of me, wandering around in different realms, and I felt like only half of myself. And yet I was keenly aware that this was an experience of growth.
This was the state I was in when one day, not long after I had returned home, I went to a street festival with a group of friends.
We came upon a booth where a young boy of about 8 or 9 was acting as salesman in chief. To say he was charming would not do him justice. He was one of those kids that was outgoing, witty, and wise beyond his years. His name was Kyle. He had been adopted into a beautiful family who traveled around to markets and festivals selling their wares.
As my friends and I talked with Kyle, I began to feel the familiar sense of magic that had seemed to evade me ever since I’d left Australia. He and I found a common love of things mystical and vagabond and we had an instant, undeniable connection.
It was no surprise to me or my friends when young Kyle told me I looked like a real fairy. I was wearing my fairy wings that day– given to me by my love in Australia– but I’d been roaming around fairy and mermaid magic since childhood and while I was living in Australia, I seemed to be a magnet for all things fairy, the magical creatures whose existence was thick with lore all over the world. A friend had even once told me that I was likely directly descended from the mysterious fae (faery) people of the ancient area of the British Isles. Small people with dark features and large eyes, they had had to take their nature-worshipping ways into hiding in the forest to avoid persecution and even genocide. I knew at once that she was right. Even the furthest traces of my traceable ancestry pointed to that area of the globe.
So when Kyle got quiet and looked at me with a curious wonder and said to me, “You look like a real fairy” as if he were asking me for the truth about myself, I spoke instantly from that place of magic without thinking.
“That’s because I am one,” I said.
Kyle’s eyes squinted with discernment, but also with a hint of wonder. “That can’t be true,” he replied hesitantly.
In that moment, I wanted to connect with this little boy– to make him believe that the world has magic in it and that he was deserving of it. I looked him straight in the eyes and with every bit of magic and belief I could recall from my own inner child, I said ,”It is true.”
And just like that, Kyle was a believer. The moments that followed were slow and surreal. We gazed into each other’s eyes, seeing no one around us on that busy street- it was just us in a world of magic.
And then, still swirling in that cloud of magic and staring deeply into my eyes, Kyle said:
“Your eyes look… strange… they look like tree trunks…”
It was the most stunning compliment I’ve ever received and it was given by an 8-year old kid.
That kid had seen right into my soul. He’d seen my magic even when I couldn’t. He’d seen the living, breathing forest in my eyes.
Soon after that experience, the word Treetrunkwise was born out of my heart. With a poetry all its own, the word has continued to reveal layers upon layers of meaning for me.
Treetrunkwise- it was the direction in which it felt like my soul was growing. In the natural world, this “direction” is found most famously in trees. As a tree becomes older and wiser, it not only grows upward (and downward), but also outward, expanding in all directions. The method of dating trees, called dendrochronology, uses the resulting tree rings to count the years a tree has been expanding outward in all directions from its core. It’s difficult to look at a very old, very large tree and not feel a real sense of wisdom emanating from it. Even then, you never know exactly how old a tree is until you can look inside and count its rings.
Perhaps more esoterically, treetrunkwise speaks of that same allusion of wisdom within in the eyes. Said to be the windows of the soul, eyes can hint at a depth of wisdom that may not at first be apparent from the outside. We may not have rings inside of us that record our years of experience, but the eyes record it in their own undeniably magical way. I like to think that when Kyle looked in my eyes during that moment of connection and veil-thin skin, and saw tree trunks, what he was also seeing was the true me– the unique depth, experience, and wisdom that make up a person’s soul- and the beauty of truly seeing another being.
Long before I found the traditional practice of yoga, Treetrunkwise was my version of connecting with my core being in order to grow outward in all directions. It encompassed my art, my music, my poetry, and all forms of expression and experimentation.
Now the word acts as the foundation for all of my offerings as a guide through your deeper experience- finding your center and expanding and growing outward in all directions- infinitely.
I often wonder if Kyle ever thinks of the day he met a real fairy. I’ll certainly never forget meeting him. I carry him with me in this name, a gift I received from him when he truly saw me and knew me to be a being of magic and wonder– just like we all are.
Me, frolicking in the rain forests of Australia, 2001. Photographed by my love and husband, Per.
Thanks for reading! Share your thoughts and replies in the comments below. – xo