My First Night in the Woods
I stand outside, looking in. Small pack on my back, I am ready for this journey deep into the woods and yet, I pause. I stand here bathed in sunlight and inhale deeply. The air is fresh and crisp…just warm enough to keep me from shivering and just cool enough to feel ever so refreshing. I turn my head, eyes closed, face towards the sun and feel its light wash over me. I feel energized by it.
Entering the woods is like having the light suddenly turned off. I go from the illumination of sunlight into total darkness; the cover of trees so thick that the light is virtually completely cut off. It takes my eyes a moment to adjust to the lack of light and for a moment, I am frightened. I feel vulnerable, having just handed control over to the darkness. My heart beats faster; my breath quickens and I begin to tremble. My eyes dart around searching the space for any hint of light but for several minutes there is nothing but darkness. The blackness envelops me, wrapping its arms around me. I find it, at first, suffocating and feel that the arms are trying to strangle me. They squeeze tighter and tighter and I struggle to catch the next breath.
It is then that I remind myself to trust…trust in the experience…trust in the growth….trust in the knowledge. I open my heart up to the darkness. I offer my love and devotion, my undivided time and attention. Suddenly, instead of feeling tightly bound by arms that are trying to harm me, I feel like I am being held in a protective embrace of love. The darkness no longer feels sinister and frightening but rather it feels comforting and relaxing. My muscles unclench and my breathing slows down.
I am beginning to make out some shapes in the shadows. I can’t quite discern what they are but there is something strangely familiar about them. Soon, some human forms begin to come into focus and I am surrounded by old friends of mine. They begin moving around me and it’s as if I am watching a movie showing me clips from my childhood. I see my friends using logs and boulders to create the outlines of rooms and doorways. They work quickly and steadily and soon there is a virtual village all around us. My friends continue their work, collecting more found objects from around the forest floor…things such as leaves and stones, nuts, cones, seed pods, and more are transformed into the inner workings of our village. They become our dishes, pots and pans, our food, and other household goods and decorations. The childish joy found in creating your own world bubbles over into laughter. Friends are holding hands, working side by side, giggling over new discoveries and new creations.
The murmuring woods have taken me into my childhood, a time where friends all worked together cooperatively to create our own happy society. We revelled in taking on new roles to act out, establishing our own rules free of adult contamination, and making things using whatever found objects were on hand and whatever creativity we could come up with. The woods have returned me to a time of peace and contentment, joy and laughter, creativity and mind expansion. This was a carefree time, not a worry in the world to be had, – a time I had almost completely forgotten about in my busy world of stress and problems. I was taken back to a time and a place I so desperately need to be in right now. I had asked of the woods, offering them what gifts I could, and I had received.