Once upon a time, there was boy named Tommy who had told himself that today was the day that nothing was going to stop him from climbing to the top of the tree. His friends had told him that they had made it to the top, and he wanted to know that he could also make it, if he really wanted to. In fact, he had even told himself that, if he didn’t make it up to the top today, he was going to give up even thinking about the idea ever again. He was at the base, and thinking about how far to the top it was, and how much work he would have to put in to get there. After many previous failed attempts, there was never any doubt that getting to the top would be worth it.
Tommy placed one hand either side of the fork in the tree. He went to take his first step and immediately came across a hurdle. He had noticed many bugs crawling around in the middle of the fork of the tree, getting on with their business of being bugs. One of the bugs stopped and stared and Tommy.
“You’re not going to climb the tree, are you?” one of the bugs asked. “You’ll squash us if you do!”
Tommy remembered the promise he had made to himself and pulled himself up on to the fork. He couldn’t be sure that he hadn’t squashed any of the little bugs but he was sure that getting to the top of the tree was the most important thing.
Now on the fork, his next hurdle was to climb up the long, thick branch which arced up and out in front of him. He took a step forward and moved his arms and legs so that he was hugging the branch and started to push off from his feet to make his way slowly up the large branch of the tree. He was halfway up when two caterpillars, one from either side of the branch, moved their way around and stood firmly in front of Tommy’s face.
“Well, good on you buddy boy!” one of the caterpillars commented.
“Yeah, you’ve made it this far but now you’re going to knock down some of our cocoons just to make it further up the tree,” the other caterpillar responded.
Tommy reminded himself that the promise was most important thing and continued to use his feet to push himself up and out along the branch. He wasn’t aware if he had knocked down any cocoons but that didn’t matter, as he was now at a point where he could now take a rest and stand up.
Looking up, he noticed that the branches were now much more of a climbing-friendly width. He confidently grabbed the branch above him and used the smaller branches in between like the steps of a ladder. As he went to pull himself up, Tommy was greeted by the sight of three birds, sitting in three separate and beautifully made bird nests. Their expressionless faces made Tommy feel a little uneasy.
“Heard you were coming,” one of the birds said.
“Yeah, heard you were coming,” commented the second.
“This is about as far it goes for you, kiddo,” said the third.
“Branches are way too thin for you up there, and we don’t want you falling and breaking our nests and eggs now, do we?”
Tommy thought about stopping to talk to the birds, but he had to move fast. They were right, the branches were a lot thinner at the top so he quickly brushed past them, not giving a second thought as to whether or not he may have accidentally kicked any nests from the branches on which they were perched. He reminded himself again of the importance of sticking to your promises, which gave him the strength to continue climbing. He had found a rhythm and was now moving very quickly. He was focusing on one branch and then the next without giving it much thought, and before he had time to think about it, he realized that he had made it to the top of the tree.
Now that he was at the very top, Tommy’s focus had changed from climbing to trying to stay steady. He had imagined that there would be plenty of time to relax and take in the extraordinary views after reaching his goal, but he now realized he had a new set of problems. Each hand and each foot were on separate branches, and he could sense that he was swaying far more than he wanted to be. At times, he would be facing up and out over the mountains, and at others he would be facing the ground. Every now and again, he had swayed around enough to be looking down the trunk of the tree and could see the damage he had left in his path.
Tommy suddenly realized that he had become quite hungry after an afternoon of climbing and began to panic when unsettling thought dawned on him: He had not considered how difficult it would be to climb DOWN from the tree. At this point, the branches began to crack under the constant, shifting weight of Tommy’s foot. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath as he felt the branches snap beneath his feet.