“Hey you, up there….am I barking up the right tree?”

Anybody who knows me knows how much I love dogs. There is just nothing like a dog who “smiles” at you, as if to say, “Seriously, dude, there is absolutely NO SINGLE PERSON on this planet I would rather be around right now.” That kind of affirmation is what draws me to dogs. I’m an “affirmation guy,” so it does my heart good to know a dog might just think of me with such admiration and adoration.

That said, there is something to be said about “barking up the wrong tree.” Dogs will only bark up a tree if they see a squirrel or a cat up there. Dogs are always barking up the right tree. But some people, myself included, have a tendency to bark up a tree that they got no business barking up at. It’s not that the tree is the problem; it’s just the wrong tree.

I’m there right now. There is someone in my life who I admire and adore and want nothing more than for this person to tell me, “Seriously, dude, there is absolutely NO SINGLE PERSON on this planet I would rather be around right now.” Right sentiment….wrong tree. And it’s not the tree’s fault. It’s the fact that I’m doing the barking and expecting the wrong tree to….bark back.

What do you do when you are “barking up the wrong tree?”

Find a tree that you can bark up at and that tree can and is willing to shade you the way you need to be shaded. There’s just gotta be a tree out there like that, but you are unlikely to find it if you’re all “barked up” the wrong tree. And please know your bark don’t compare with your bite. Please bark! But it’s the bark up the wrong tree that has so much sap on it, bark as you might, you end up slipping and sliding headfirst on the way down.

Not sure what this has to do with “barking up a tree,” but I’m reminded of that country-and-western song from the film, URBAN COWBOY, “Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places.” Ain’t that the truth? In that film, Bud and Sissy fell in love at Gilley’s, fell out of love, and then fell back in love again in the parking lot of this bar. How romantic. It’s like they had to meet at the bar, leave the bar, go back to the bar, and then leave the bar again. Was it even necessary to leave the bar in the first place? Maybe so. Maybe we have to do just that, i.e., bark up the wrong tree, leave the tree, go back to the tree to bark up again, only to leave the tree again, until we are all “sapped out!”

I’ve been going to this same wrong tree for a long time now, barking and barking and barking up and up and up. And I’ve left the tree, only to go back again, leave again, back again, leave again (eat your heart out, cowboy Bud and cowgirl Sissy!) But I’m starting to see that there are some other trees in this forest we call life that are just as shaded and just as comforting as the wrong tree I’ve been barking up. “Can’t see the forest for the trees?” Maybe the forest is not the problem….it’s just I’ve been “barking up the wrong tree.”

I invite you to consider “barking up the right tree.” You might have to do some hiking and some climbing and some “forest ranging,” but there is bound to be the right tree just around the bend. I guess you’ll know it’s the “right tree” when you bark up at it, and the tree bends down to embrace you. Some trees can and are willing to do just that; that’s why trees got branches.

Here’s praying for you and me to “bark up the right tree.”

Timothy J. Verret

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