What an odd dream I had last night. For some reason I was alone, standing on a tree limb high above the ground. “How did I get here?”, I asked a little chipmunk just ahead of me, his cheeks puffed out from the acorns he held inside.
He shrugged his shoulders and I knew that he didn’t want to lose the nuts he had gathered by answering me. I held out my hand and softly said, “Just drop them in my hand so we can talk. I’ll protect them for you.” He approached me slowly and gently dropped one in my hand, watching me to see what I was going to do with it. One by one, several acorns filled my hand, and I asked again, “How did I get here?”
In a minute or so he began to chatter and oddly enough I couldn’t understand what he was trying to say. After all, he was a chipmunk and chipmunks don’t speak like humans do. Having lived in the country, I learned that I needed a translator that would allow me to understand what the animals and birds were saying or singing about. I went on Amazon and sure enough, there it was, new and shiny. The specs said it would translate over 100 different birds and animals so I had to get one. And I did.
I pulled the translator from my pocket, dialed it to chipmunk and asked him his name. “I’m Alvin”, he said, “Nice to meet you.” I smiled and replied, “Nice to meet you too Alvin. I’m Walt. Could you possibly explain how I got out on this limb and what I’m doing here?”
“You’re a writer Walt. All writers end up out on a limb at some point,” Alvin replied. “You could be out here on this limb because you know you have a deadline to meet and you are having a difficult time deciding what to write about,” Alvin continued.
Alvin was wise beyond his years. I’m a new writer entering a writing contest for a chance to be published in a writer’s magazine, trying to write a brilliant short story about being out on a limb.
“How do I get off this limb, Alvin,” I asked. Alvin smiled with his cute little chipmunk smile and simply said, “Keep writing Walt. Write what you feel, write what you know, write and write and write again.”
In a New York minute I understood what Alvin was really trying to say. It doesn’t matter whether I win the contest or not (well, it does to me, but I understand). It doesn’t matter whether my story is good or bad. What truly matters is that I took the challenge and wrote this story. What matters is that I went way beyond my comfort zone and challenged myself.
One of my very first writings on Medium and Patreon was based on a quote I had seen, “Don’t limit your challenges, challenge your limits.” I have done that and it’s a wonderful feeling. I am writing poetry, about life experiences, about whatever strikes me. If people read my work that’s great, but if not, that’s great too. I’m writing for myself and the need I have to create.
I thanked Alvin, gave him back the acorns I was holding for him and watched as he nodded, stuffed them all back into his mouth and scurried past me, back to his storage area of the tree.
I knew I would be here on this limb for awhile, so I sat down, dangling my legs over the edge of the branch like a little kid and enjoyed the view. Knowing why I was there had made all the difference in the world to me and I pulled out my notebook and pen and started to write.
Alvin was right.
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