Guest: Heather Heyns 1/4/15 Treehouses

This week’s guest writer is Heather Heyns.  Heather was born and raised in the deserts of Southern California. She refuses to own hamsters after the first one hung itself, and her next set ate each other in a Survivor style massacre. She spends her time chasing children (usually her own), avoiding escalators, and what little is left she devotes to writing. She lives with her husband and her two children, which explains the dark nature of her writing. Her work can be found in Literary Orphans, Foliate Oak, and on Eat, Sleep Write.


Dear Heather,

As a child, you built tree houses with your friends. A little glue and a lot of prayers held them together. You stretched out in the branches, a hand here, a foot there, holding the plywood scraps in place. A tiny movement and they tumbled like Jenga pieces to the ground. You got cuts, you fell from the tree, you failed over and over, but you always built the tree house again.

You grew from that fearless girl into a person afraid of failure. Talent stalked you, but you used laziness to keep it hidden. You gave no effort to your education, skating by with C’s, never studying, never trying, a tiny relief with each mediocre grade you earned. Teachers asked you why you never applied yourself, and you shrugged as if you could do no better.

When offered the chance to join teams, encouraged by instructors who insisted you had talent, you declined. Safer to look average than to prove incompetence. You wanted to go to camps, to join contests, to prove your worth, but fear of walking away empty-handed paralyzed you. You hid from any opportunity to prove yourself.

You stared at blank pages with so many words you wanted to write, so many things you wanted to do, but you turned on the television or made idle small talk instead. A story never written could find no rejection. You would rather write nothing than risk proving yourself a hack.

When did you lose your fearlessness? How could you allow that girl, so brave and resilient, to become a woman controlled by fears of inadequacy?

You need to get back what you had, in those trees as a human joist, when a fifteen-foot fall and some blood felt a small price to pay. You need to find the faith that failure won’t break you, and the tenacity to keep trying. Here you are, putting your fears and failures on display, and you didn’t break. You said yes when you wanted to say no. The world didn’t stop. No one leapt from the shadows to point and laugh.

Staying on the ground might be safer, but it’s worth the fall to build treehouses. So what will you do, Heather, live a life of safe mediocrity, or gather some wood and climb into that tree again?

Well? What will it be?


The read more of our letters, visit The Path.

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