The first step on a new path can be filled with mixed emotions. The adventuress in you is excited to be striking out into fresh territory. You take a deep breath. Close your eyes. Heft your bag more snugly onto your shoulders and begin. Even the crunch of the ground under your worn boots is buzzing with anticipation. The trees are whispering in excitement to have your presence. The rustle of small animals stirring amongst dried leaves makes you ponder the idea if the universe is watching.
You have done your research. You know what the catalogs of previous travelers say about this path. But nothing can replicate what your own experience will be. The trepidation of the unknown raps out the “what if’s” to the beat of your heart. You are spending an incredible amount of energy massaging the worry out of your head. You are having a heart to head conversation with yourself validating your preparation for what lies ahead. Reviewing your checklist of supplies seems to quiet the space between your ears.
Sometimes when you are at a high point of the path, you can look back and see the evidence of how far you have come. You feel a melancholic wave to look back to where you were, taking inventory of your progress. The evidence of someone’s presence is slightly more comfortable than being in solitude. As you trudge on, you find a thin line of reality has been crossed to complete isolation as the cars and buildings become nothing more than a thumbtack on your horizon.
But then, you find your rhythm. There is a point in the solitude when your body, soul, and mind become in sync with your surroundings. If you pay attention, you can feel the slight curl of a smile on the edges of your lips. Confirmation settles into your heart that this is exactly why you came out here to begin with: to experience the deafening quiet of absolute peace. Gone are the nagging feelings of deadlines and the whirl of society rushing past you as if you will be swallowed up into its busyness.
You close your eyes to heighten your sense of sound to the world grinding on its axis. You remove your jacket and have the chilled air prickle your skin into goose bumps that seem to be drinking the icy refreshment into your bones. Then you open your eyes to slowly caress the landscape into your memory like a lover’s reunion long overdue.
Finally, the shadows longingly touch my sunny patch of dirt as if they are ready to devour me into darkness; and I know it is time to pack my bag and navigate to where I came from. But not without a fond adieu to my happy place that will be awaiting my return.
“Going to the woods is going home.” ~John Muir