Not long ago, I suddenly found myself thinking back on a picture I drew countless times when I was young. It was a picture of a tree. I redrew this immense tree dozens of times until I could draw it as I pleased. Its soaring height meant that one sheet of paper was never enough, so I taped several sheets together. The tree was always drawn with a hammock, a radio, a swing, and a ladder. It was the tree where I would live.
First, I drew a family of birds and a nest at the very top. I added a rainbow of flowers. There were apples, oranges, peaches, and all kinds of fruit growing on the same tree. There were also lollipops and balloons. At the very bottom was the hammock I would use as a bed. Next to it was always a radio.
A hole in the middle of the massive trunk served as an entrance to the tree’s inside. My imagined tree’s cavernous trunk was completely taken up by the library. I’ve always loved books, and this is the idea I came up with after contemplating where I would store my piles of favorite books.
The other things I never failed to include were a ladder for climbing into the tree, a cat, a hat, a swing, and umbrellas. The umbrellas were left open and affixed to branches to make shady spots. On a rope strung between branches I had clothes on hangers, and I pinned photographs and pictures I had drawn all over the trunk with thumbtacks. It was a world packed with all my favorite things, down to the last square inch.
Despite redrawing it many times, I added the same things to the tree every time. But I was never happy with it. To someone else, every version may have looked the same. I agonized over how to best arrange everything. I even drew a cross-section of the tree, and spent quite some time debating the design of the library. In the end, I stopped work on each picture short of completion. And even though I drew more pictures than I can count, why can’t I find a single one now? Possibly I mistook them for trash, since some were drawn on the backs of advertisements. But I somewhat suspect I threw each one away myself when I decided I wasn’t happy with it.
Anyway, that memory I had forgotten for the longest time suddenly popped into my head the other day. Even without having the actual pictures in front of me, I can still imagine them cleary in my mind. I can imagine the tree’s shape, structure, and ideal form. I wonder why I was so absorbed in that.
Ah, I remember. There was another thing I was absorbed in. When I read “Gulliver’s Travels” and saw the illustration of Gulliver being tied to the beach (which of course had no effect on the humongous Gulliver) after he drifted ashore, for a time I seriously pondered the best way to tie down Gulliver’s enormous body (e.g. how to best bind his hair and pin it down with spikes, etc.) were I in the Lilliputians’ shoes. I suppose my continuing love for simulation games has its roots in my childhood.
Long story short, I loved to daydream when I was young, and I still have that tendency. But I hate to think that I might not have the energy anymore to forget everything and lose myself in something like I used to, so this morning I started to draw that tree once more. And I still can’t draw something that I’m happy with! I still run out of paper, and I can’t find a good place to put the radio. I’m thinking of putting in some big speakers this time, and now that I’m older it seems like everything I draw has become a bit more high tech. Now I’m thinking of hanging a big projector screen somewhere, but I can’t make up my mind as to where it should go, since it has a huge impact on where I position the hammock. Who wouldn’t want to watch movies and concert videos in bed, right?
You’re probably thinking I’m making too big a deal about having everything in a tree, right? But that’s the point. This of all things has to be a tree, or else it’s pointless.
I wonder when I’ll finish drawing my tree.