Hitched to The Universe

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

I was sitting at my kitchen counter working the other day and as I was trying to sort out a problem I found myself staring out my kitchen windows at the trees in my backyard. It suddenly struck me how beautiful they are. There is one in particular that I love so much—a big Oak tree, under which sits a bright yellow bench.  Some of the branches are getting so long and low that the leaves seem to be wrapping the bench in a hug.  It’s a tree my kids love to climb—its branches are strong and welcoming.

I love trees.

I always have, I think. Something about them has always mesmerized me- probably from the time I was six years old.

I marvel at how strong they are. Their roots go crazy deep—where they are planted, they plant themselves. Like an iceberg, there is so much more to they than we can see on the surface.

They are so different, too.  There are the mighty oaks, the majestic maples, the beautiful ash, the delicate ginkgo, the persistent and relentless pine, the giant sequoias, and everything in between. And every tree is beautiful, in its own way.  I love that you can’t just say “tree” and have it mean one thing.

Trees have a sort of magical quality, don’t they? We hang wind chimes on them. We carve our initials in them. We hang piñatas on them. We sit under them for shade. We climb them. We build houses in them.

They seem to dance with the wind. I can get lost in the dancing leaves of trees for hours.  And feel like I could stay for an eternity.

Birds, squirrels, racoons, monkeys, snakes, frogs, and countless other animals make trees their home—trees provide the comfort of home.

I wear a tree necklace most days lately.  I love it so much because it somehow grounds me. All I have to do is take hold of it and I feel calm.  I also have a tree tattoo on my back, which I’ve had for a decade, and I recently got the leaves re-colored in fiery shades of red, yellow, and orange. A reminder of how passionate and remarkable a thing they truly are.  Because trees remind me of life and strength and beauty.

I think I feel such a reverence for trees because through them I feel a connection to something so much bigger than just me.  They remind me of the John Muir quote:

When you try to pick out anything by itself, you find it hitched to everything else in the universe. 

I guess trees are my hitch; my connection to the entire universe.

When’s the last time you truly paid attention to a tree? Let yourself get lost in its many gifts? Let it comfort you, provide you shade, play with you, dance with you?

How many days do we spend with our eyes down, focusing on the next task and then the next—going through the motions of the day to day and forgetting to ever look up and remember that we are part of something so much larger? All around us trees are there, beckoning us to step out of the daily grind and rediscover our connection to the bigger whole—the everything.  

How can you look up today, and reconnect with this beautiful hitch to the universe?

Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.