by Marie Sherlock
If you aren’t aware of this iconic Portland landmark and you’re interested in experiencing All Things Portland then you really must add it to your Portland “to do” list.
The Wishing Tree is exactly what it sounds like: A towering elm where you can write down a wish (all necessary materials provided free of charge) and then tie it to a branch or leaf (no thumbtacks or nails are used, the tree is not harmed :). Several hundred – perhaps thousands? – of folks have already made this pilgrimage and put their wishes “out there”.
This tree of dreams is located in the parking strip in front of the house at 2954 NE 7th Ave (between Stanton and Siskiyou, just down from Irving Park). The owners of the home started the tradition by putting their own wishes on the tree in late 2013. When others followed suit, they decided to provide tags (with strings) and Sharpies for those who wanted to add their own thoughts. And the magic began…
The Wishing Tree Experience includes both reading others’ wishes – and creating your own, if you’re so inclined. And then, perhaps, taking a moment to visualize all of this good stuff actually happening.
I LOVE the Wishing Tree and encourage everyone I know to check it out. Here’s why:
#1: It’s FUN.
Apparently, people who are into making wishes (or at least many of them) like a chuckle. As you read through the offerings you will find many light-hearted and even some belly-laugh-inducing sentiments. Here’s an example of one dreamer having fun: One side of this wisher’s tag reads “ONE BILLION $$”. On the flip-side: “OR AVOCADOS.” Made you smile, didn’t it?
#2: It inspires creativity.
Along with humor, there is art! For example: “I wish my cats could talk” (with not half-bad illustrations). “I WISH UNICORNS WERE REAL.” (again with illustrations). “I WISH I WASN’T A ROBOT” (ALSO with illustrations).
Some folks even bring their own home-made “tags” like the individual who hung a purple-dotted clam shell (?) on the tree, emblazoned with “To Claim My Own Voice”.
#3: It’s profound.
This is surely the primary reason that I love the Wishing Tree. Reading the wishes of others makes me think about the world and my role in it and it often makes me realize how good my own life is (even when it borders on the mundane).
Many people express hopes for sick relatives and friends: “I wish for my mom’s health to get better and to be happy.” “I wish Grace feels better soon.”
Others combine hopes for the planet with their personal desires: “I wish for World Peace and an end to hunger and homelessness. I also wish to travel the world and one day own a home in NE Portland with my family” “I wish to use my 40 year old voice to empower other women to change the world.”
Many are intensely personal while expressing almost universal feelings: “I wish to find my place in life, to worry less and have pure happiness.” “I WISH TO FIND MY COMMUNITY. MY TRIBE. MY FOREVER HOME.”
Some read more like Pema Chodron-inspired affirmations than wishes (not that there is anything wrong AT ALL with that!): “May my heart open. May I be filled with loving kindness.” “I wish that all Beings feel Loved & release their pains. Express only Love to Others.”
My favorites are those that I need to dwell on a bit, that maybe I hadn’t ever thought of but that, having now read them, I can see their truth: “I WISH EVERYONE the Best, No matter what you’ve done in the past.” “I wish to become the best me I can be & to inspire everyone to be the best thems they can be.”
#4: It builds community.
I’m certain that this tree is treasured by those living in proximity to it. But I believe there’s also a connection made when you read about others’ dreams and hopes – and add your own. Just the realization that we all share many of the same goals, aspirations and thoughts is a powerful thing. It imparts a feeling of spiritual connection to others – and that’s not a bad place to start, whether we want to change the world or just get a second interview for a job.
#5: It gives you permission to dream.
How often do you ask yourself what you REALLY want in this world? Not what others want for you or what the world tells you that you should want. Take a moment to truly ponder the possibilities.
Then, make a wish (or two or three). Put them out there in the world (compliments of The Wishing Tree). And see what happens.