There is a simplicity and factuality about the woods that smoothes out the wrinkles in my soul. I was hiking with a friend the other day and we came upon a stream. While searching for a safe crossing she stopped and smiled at me, a wide grin of realization spreading across her face. “How great is this?” she asked. “The biggest problem we have to think about today is finding a way to cross this stream.” For all the problems and complexities we face in daily life, the woods provide a refuge of straight-forward dilemmas for us to solve. Her challenges are surmountable and we know it…somehow, by the end of the day, no matter what Mother Nature throws at us we will find a way around, under, over or through. She demands we do something. For the act of giving up and simply sitting down on the earth, unmoving and without any plan to go forward or back seems ridiculously unthinkable. And yet away from the woods, when faced with the obstacles present in our daily lives, this is exactly what so many of us do.
My friend and I eventually did find a safe crossing and continued on our way. Feeling empowered by our recent triumph we walked much further than we had planned. Much higher too. Hillsides once viewed too steep to venture upon became trails to conquer. Can’t doesn’t exist in the woods. Growing tired and with daylight receding, plans were made to return and explore again. Our adventure, while physically demanding, energized our souls far more than it exhausted our bodies.
The woods stay with you; lessons learned amongst the trees incorporated into your being, their strength absorbed into the very essence of you. Problems are dwarfed by the grandeur of nature herself and you are reminded that somehow life always goes on. But lose connection with the earth; go too long without breathing in air laden with the scent of dirt and moss, and her magic fades. Stress creeps back in and life looms large. We humans seem predisposed to making life more complicated than it needs to be. But the woods…the woods remind us that difficulties are empowering and we have within us all that is required.
How far, I wonder, are you from the woods right now? How many paths through the trees do you pass most days on your commute without so much as a fleeting interest in their existence? Within the woods, amongst the trees, is the clarity we crave…the peace we seek. Distraction and re-direction, isolation and connection…the woods will soothe you, empower you, excite and energize you. They will calm you and leave you in awe. Mother Nature will not send you a special invitation, but if you listen closely you will hear her call to you. Go to the woods. Cross a stream or two. Take in the stillness and become aware of the life all around you. Let the woods smooth out the wrinkles in your soul.
© Kelly Rainey and http://www.500wordsandcounting.wordpress.com, 2015.
Photo By Roman Boed from The Netherlands (Black Forest: Stream) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
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