As much as I love being around people, I feel a deep desire and need to be close to the woods. I grew up falling asleep to the hoots of barred owls and the howls of coyotes. My lullaby was the wind rustling through the leaves and the branches creaking like an old rusty hinge. Some people might find these sounds terrifying--a setting fit for a horror movie--but these noises are only natural. I believe the fear people feel comes from inexperience or a disconnection with nature--an all-too-common phenomena in our fast-paced, technology-obsessed, over-populated and overdeveloped society. If only more people could overcome this fear, then they would be able to enjoy the healing benefits and gifts of nature as well.
A short hike is all is takes to regain the natural connection. A short hike is all it takes to remember that we are as much a part of the roots in the ground and the bark on the trees as they are to us.
Yes, I am a little bit of a hippie. Yes, I do talk to trees on occasion, dance and sing while alone on trails, and follow scents like the dogs I walk, but not because I'm crazy. I do these things because I am genuinely in love with the woods. I am thankful for the fresh air and the calm little-known trails provide me. They open up space in a congested world and invite me to be myself. They invite me to discover new plants, rocks, animals, and faint bits of wisdom that can only be heard outside of bustling towns. They remind me to care and slow down. They remind me to make environmentally-friendly choices not just when convenient, but as often as I can. They make me a better person.
When I go into the woods, I try my best to leave behind all distractions. Sometimes, I have to bring my phone for safety's sake, but when the trails are well-marked, I enjoy taking a break from technology and clearing my mind. I consider my hikes my medicine. Some people take aspirin for their headaches, but I prefer taking a dip in the trees. It's amazing how many times I've felt a headache I hadn't even been aware of loosen and dissipate while hiking on a trail. Life can be so demanding at times, stress becomes the norm. Without the natural world, our minds can become as stuffy and confined as the space within a cubicle.
Well, I invite you to break free from that cubicle! I invite you to walk slightly on the wild side and find a trail near you. Rediscover nature and fall back in love. The woods doesn't hold a grudge. The woods doesn't care if you haven't visited or called in a while. Nature's love is unconditional. The trees will always be there for you with open branches and an open heart. The question is will you be there for nature?