The Money Tree

Your calves strain, your breath is heavy, and your shirt saturated with sweat as it’s sandwiched between your back and backpack. But with one final surge, you break through the dense forest trail and into a field of soft green grass, vividly lit by the rich afternoon sun. A single tree, strong and slender with a bushy bulb of leaves atop the trunk, sits perfectly in the centre of the field. It’s the highest point for miles in all directions. An unassuming symbol of accomplishment.

The tree beckons you towards it. A wave of awe and appreciation washes over you as you accomplish yet another challenging hike. You take a well-deserved rest against the tree’s smooth trunk and bask in the beauty and richness of the natural world. Life is singing and dancing around you in the warm afternoon sun. It begins to serenade you to sleep against the tree that you’re now connected to, both physically and psychologically. This fleeting moment will be permanently woven in the fabric of your mind.

You sink down.

Down.

Tumbling deep down into a dreamy realm of creativity and mystery.

Down through the rabbit hole and into Wonderland.

Soft grass cushions your fall. As you look up, the first thing you see is The Money Tree, humbly sitting atop a vivid green field. Children daydream about this place, conjuring up tales of wealth and opportunity foretold for their future. Some parents allay these wayward dreams, cynically trying to teach thrift to their children:

“Money doesn’t grow on trees!”

But here you are, lying in the presence of The Money Tree, proudly sitting atop the vivid green field.

You stand up and walk towards The Money Tree, enticingly sitting atop the vivid green field. The tree is being tended to by a suite of salesmen-come-caretakers in their suit and ties, smiling at you sweetly. Don’t look too closely though, because their smiles slowly begin to distort into wicked wisps of maleficence. They wield long-handled shears, pruning exposed leaves to keep the tree in order, but surreptitiously pocketing them with a wink. Wait, you blink and the distortion gives way once again to saturated sweetness exuding from The Money Tree, radiantly sitting atop the vivid green field.

You are standing under the shadow of The Money Tree, tantalisingly sitting atop the vivid green field. You reach out to touch the trunk, sturdy and sandpapered-smooth, effortlessly supporting branches laden with leaves and berries. But your next glance upward reveals that this truly is The Money Tree, with green dollar bills and bronze coins masquerading as foliage.

“Money really does grow on trees!”

You muse with surprise as you take in the fluttering and glistening currency up above, tantalisingly out of arms reach and with no obvious route to climb up the trunk. You give the tree a couple of shoves, but all of a few stray coins rain down. The salesmen sneer at you. You spend the next laborious hour attempting to climb the trunk and collect a cheque from the treetops, but you slide back down with your pockets only lined one layer deep. The sun sets in the background, with butterflies and birds of green and blue hue finding their way back home. They’re in flittering contrast against the orange evening skyline – all unbeknownst to you, blind as you battle your way up The Money Tree, tauntingly sitting atop the vivid green field, fading in the diminishing light.

It’s dark now, and the salesmen have all lined their pockets from The Money Tree, gravely sitting atop what you remember used to be a vivid green field. The tree casts a ghostly moonlit shadow over you as you collapse against it, exhausted. The smooth, solid trunk provides no comfort for all of its structural support. In the shadow of doubt, your mind begins to question…

“How did I get here?”

“How sincere is this whole place?”

“Where is the Utopian dream promised by The Money Tree, now mockingly sitting atop this vague grey field?”

You close your eyes and grey turns to black…

You wake, and the richness of the afternoon sun instantly warms you from the icy clutches of your obscene dream. You’re comforted to realise that you’re still sitting with your back against the tree you reached earlier, and you’re legs are rejuvenated with the energy to descend the hike. The green bills have given way to vibrant, distinctly real leaves and succulent red berries. You pick one down to taste, and an explosion of rich, natural flavours greet your senses as it bursts in your mouth. Realisation floods through you as you absorb the beauty and intricacy of the natural world around you. The tree, this experience, this accomplishment is the real Money Tree, symbolically sitting with you, entwined together, in a vivid green field, on a mountain, on top of the world.

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