Jack, what do you want to do with your life? What interests you? What are you doing to be successful? AHHH!!!! Sometimes this drive towards success is too much. It is this all encompassing black hole that has destroyed marriages, torn down households, and broken the sense of awe and wonder in many people. When I feel the weight of this pressing down on my I escape to the forest. As a boy I climbed everything! Trees, rocks, large walls, buildings… hurt myself pretty bad doing the last one, but it never stopped me. Then came the day when i was taken to the beach. It’s a northwestern beach and being so is lined with a forest. We hiked the trails, stayed on the path and walked slowly. All around me, birds were flying and chirping, a curious chatter that still entrances me. The sun shown through the leaves creating patterns on the ground in front of me. everywhere I looked I was speechless, in every direction, a new adventure, a new sound to explore, an new wonder to gawk at, a new beauty to take into my heart and cherish. When we left I was sad, but I vowed to come back. Over the years of growing up I go the opportunity to revisit this place many times but it wasn’t my escape until I got my first car.
It was a Saturday morning that started out as any, waking up, doing some homework, applying for college, and it hit me like a wave. This feeling of being crushed and small, of being trapped and shackled. i threw on my clothes, grabbed my journal and backpack, and drove back to the beach. When I arrived I jumped out and ran into the forest, eager to get lost. As i walked along the forest hills I still felt it creeping on me, tainting even this place with thick musk. It reeked of temporary, all I could think of was going back. As I walked I realized something, I was lost.I had taken different forks, I had lost concentration, I had not been not been paying attention to my surroundings. In this moment it all came rushing back, the excitement, the awe, the wonder. I felt alive and free. Instead of turning back I continued to walk until I came to a spot that overlooked the water. This is what i wrote:
“To live, to dance, to dream. These pleasures are but a memory. Lost in the forests of time. lost in the swamps of my heart. Stuck in the mires of despair, with no hope for escape. But here, here I can remember, I can feel I can dance. Here I can exist in the beauty of it all, and lose myself in the wonder. This forest, this sanctuary, my home away from home.
So come bitterness, come stress. I challenge you worry and doubt. For when you come I will lose you in the forest. I will let it envelope you, even as it has me. Here we will both find rest. Here we can find peace. Bitterness I name you friend, you are now remembrance. Thank you. Stress, I name you friend. You are now drive. I can put you to good use. Thank you. Worry and Doubt, you shall now be preparation and courage. Together you will help me overcome the obstacles of life and the challenges that lie before me. Together we shall overcome.”
It was here, in the midst of the ancient trees towering around me, that I found myself. Not what I wanted to do, but who i wanted to be. To be a man of action. To be a man of courage. To be loving and kind. To be driven. To remember and learn from my mistakes. The forest Is my citadel. My fortress. Some find there home in the city, others in the country, I find mine in the forest.