I tried forest therapy this weekend guided by a local friend. As much as I was expecting a “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” walk, it wasn’t like that at all. No poison apples or evil witches at this campground. I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting. I pictured a bunch of people walking quietly through the woods with a therapist talking us through a meditation. To my surprise, it was both a self and group guided experience. We started by sitting in the grass and just listening as the therapist called our awareness to each of our senses. Listen for the farthest sound. Find the quietest. Smell the air. I was surprised by how aware I was. A few minutes before, I was flying down the road lined with corn fields just trying to find the place.
After a series of exercises, the final one entailed walking up to a tree that we noticed. I promise I wasn’t on drugs. That Uber driver in Austin didn’t convince me on psychedelics. I wandered up to a tree with a trunk so large that I couldn’t wrap my arms around it. Surrounding the base were a million acorns. Looking at the acorns I saw some with roots popping out of the top. I tried to grab one with a long root, but it had already dug the way into the ground in an attempt to become something beautiful. Now is the time of year in Illinois when acorns fall and the beginnings of what could be a tree someday are created.
I caught myself wondering how none of the others had taken root. This tree stood at least 20 big steps away from the forest’s edge. With all these seeds dropped each year, how didn’t a single tree come up? I’m no arborist, but I don’t understand why not a single one of these acorns ever became a tree. To me, it made this tree with its massive trunk even more special. Over a hundred years ago, it was just an acorn in a pile under a tree, too. But something remarkable happened for it to be standing 100+ years later.
In the aftermath of writing a book, this nutty (pun intended) metaphor for life was a perfect reminder that not everything is going to grow into something remarkable. It was a reminder that where I stand today is pretty remarkable, too. I’m not supposed to be here. I never thought I’d be an entrepreneur or author. It wasn’t a sure thing that I’d ever leave a 100 mile radius of the town I was born in, let alone wandering the world in the ways I have.
It’s so easy to forget to look around and realize how remarkable it is to be where you are today. I do it all the time, looking around at the metaphorical acorns in my life – the things that started but never became anything more than an idea I wasted a lot of time on. In our accomplishment-driven society, we often take stock of a life well-lived simply through the eyes of what everyone else can see. The shit you post about on Instagram.
But the more I live, the more I see the value in beginnings that never become something bigger. The acorns that never become trees are remarkable, too. In nature, they protect the roots so the tree can stand tall. For me, they prepared me for the big moments. Those trials and errors over time made things that seemed like catastrophes feel survivable. These moments help me be less harsh with the part of my brain that worried I was wasting time all along.
With friends, I mocked myself relentlessly for drafting four different books that sit on my desktop. I can see now that all those old ideas I deleted were just a necessary shedding process. A million little beginnings and just one became my book – This Was All An Accident – a top 25 LGBT biography this week (no shit). You can buy a copy and leave a review here to help me stay there.
So as we head into the weekend and even Sunday scaries, I invite you to try new things that never become anything. To go for a walk just to notice it all. Most of all, to remember that you’re remarkable.
Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.