Nature doesn’t ask your permission; it doesn’t care about your wishes, or whether you like its laws or not. You’re obliged to accept it as it is, and consequently all its results as well. ~Fyodor Dostoevsky
I’ve taken so many walks in the woods that now, when I move through any other aspect of my life, be it a personal interaction or when I’m “out there” in the big chaotic peopled world, I adopt the same mindset, the same stance, and it is as if I am merely walking through woods of a different sort. I close my eyes to those things that irritate my vision and my ears to those sounds that grate on my spirit like fingernails across a chalkboard, replacing them in my mind at least with scenic beauty and pleasing sounds. Most of all, I close my soul off from all those things I don’t understand. Because in the woods, in the secreted places that few know about or venture to, I understand it all and can move forward without a single question other than perhaps who might have passed this way before me…
It follows then that I am most comfortable when writing about nature, for it is the source of all things to me, the place where all my comforts reside, and the fount of all the knowledge I could ever hope to possess. In its vast and forgotten places, I am most at home and where I belong. I understand now why some are haunted all their lives by a sense that they’re in the wrong place, and I also comprehend now what a struggle life can be for such people who literally must step outside themselves to function in the world of human interaction that, all too often, becomes more emotionally strenuous and stressful than they can bear.
How often have I heard someone say how much they enjoy the solitude and serenity of a week spent at the seashore or at a cabin or in a tent in the woods, how much they prefer that experience over that of their daily lives? The more complex and draining the human experience becomes, the more naturally some of us tend to gravitate toward that place where none, or very little of that, exists. It’s not a regression but more a stepping off the assembly line…for we are all, like it or not, products of the system we alone among all species have created, and we continue to move along allowing ourselves to be shaped by whatever forces exert the most power over us.
Once off that line, we are then free to turn to nature, and I immediately feel the difference between being propelled forward by societal pressure or simply standing there surrounded and towered over by forces that couldn’t care less whether I exist or not. And there’s the difference: society and the world of people do care to the extent that they exploit what I have to give, while nature ignores me and allows me to blend in and not worry at all about being appropriated for its use. That is so liberating and, I think, one of nature’s more abstract qualities that many people miss: in the woods or in any isolated place, we can let our guards down, be totally ourselves, and no judgment will ever come to us from the trees or other living things around us. There, we are never ridiculed, poked fun at, criticized or demeaned. We simply are, along with everything else, in a place that puts us into the proper perspective and where everything–tree, flower, or wild creature–is simply trying to move through its life as best it can.