Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Walk in the Woods

When was the last time you took a walk in the woods?

I don't mean you cut a shortcut through the park. Nor am I referencing a jog through a wooded area because it is cooler in the shade.

I mean this:

You head out your door, leaving behind your cell phone, laptop, ipod, camera, and backpack. You take water. Always take water.

You go to "the woods". Which woods? Where are THE WOODS? Doesn't matter, except they need to be a good click away from the cars, the hustle, nay, even the bustle of your usual world.

You have no time you must be back. You know that you will probably be back for dinner, and at the very least in time for the TBS rerun of The Office, but you don't know if your walk is going to take you 45 minutes or 4.5 hours. And you don't care, because the point of a walk in the woods is not to get a certain amount of exercise. Get your 30 minutes of increased heart rate three times a week action somewhere else. This is about life with no time constraints.

You begin to walk in the woods. Your mind turns to the things you should be doing. Homework, bill paying, calling your mom, finishing your taxes, ending world hunger, starting a blog, eating at Chipotle, cleaning your house, watching your children, etc.

You run out of things to thing about, so you start to look around you. You realize that while you were thinking, you wandered deep into the woods. The light looks different here, filtered by the trees. The path is more rocky, less defined. Shadows are thrown about, creating false images. At first you are startled by the silence, until you realize the world you have entered is less than silent. You hear the birds discussing what their children should have for dinner. You hear the squirrels chattering about the whether this year's acorn harvest will be worth a damn. You hear unknown insects whine and zip as they create a symphony that perhaps only God can truly appreciate, because God can't get mosquito bites.

You listen harder, more attentively, and you hear the trees telling ancient stories, with great pauses and sighs, like old men sitting in a diner. You hear the grass and bushes talking rapidly, ignoring the trees, trying to tell their own stories. And if your lucky, you may even hear the babble of a stream.

You pause at the stream to listen for a while, cooling your feet, letting the tales the trees, bushes, grass, and stream all have to tell you fill your ears and your heart for a while. The stories are old, but they feed the soul, so listen carefully. Your ancestors knew how to listen to the stories the woods had to tell, and if you work at it, you can too.

As you sit by the stream, you notice that the light is putting on a play on the water's surface. It dances here, dances their, now leaping to this rock, now rolling down stream. It reminds you of when you were a kid, and you loved to jump and run from place to place, looking for the best adventure possible. The light winks at you, because that is exactly what it is doing, and now you and it have a common memory.

After a while, you begin your trek back home. Now you are keenly aware of the wooded world around you. The shadows follow you, protecting you, growing big and tough and then shrinking away after each corner is rounded, each hill is climbed.

Perhaps you will begin to understand how those who came before us could believe in fairies, nymphs, fauns, and elves. Perhaps a part of you will begin to believe in them again. With a phone in your ear, an ipod in your pocket, and shut away in a car, it is hard to believe that anything other than the obvious world exists. But here in the woods, in the deafening, busy "silence", you can believe in something a bit more.

And then you come to the edge of the woods. You turn back, part of you longing to return to the stream, to stay in the woods forever. But the "real world" awaits. Dinner must be made, homework done, house cleaned. You stand there, torn. A tree quietly whispers that it is okay, you will be back, the woods will wait. It always has, it always will. So you turn, and as you do, a shadow moves, or was it a fairy, waving goodbye.

You return to your world feeling a little older, a little wiser. You have spent time in creation older and wiser than yourself. And for that, you are all the better.

We can't do it (most of us anyway) everyday. But I know that there are days when I need it, and I suspect you do to. So I ask again....

When was the last time you took a walk in the woods?


rachel rianne said...

a year ago.
it was with 3 other girls,
but we got lost and then had to trek back in the dark down the side of a mountain.
i miss that.

i wish you were with me at the beerfest, john.

rachel rianne said...

i suppose moving back to kansas makes it so that you don't have to blog anymore.

i get it.

just all the more exciting to see you when i get there.

sara b said...

it is 12am and after reading that post i am seriously considering getting out of bed and driving to the closest wooded area to live out that magical, fairy-filled goodness you just described.
although...being that i have an overactive imagination as it is...i may end up 'seeing' humanfrodspidersnakes and redeyedpeopleeatingdragons instead of your suggested happy-fairies and friendly-narnia-creatures. so maybe i'll wait until tomorrow.