There is something about wandering through the woods that feels timeless. It’s a difficult feeling to describe, but as soon as I am immersed in nature, I start to forget the “Jess” that I have constructed through my experiences and social conditioning, and feel more connected to the me that is my consciousness, my soul. When you’re separated from the busy-ness of everyday life: work, house, bills, family problems, relationship issues… it can be like a breath of fresh air. A reset of sorts. It’s like we have these inner fists that are balled up tight inside of us, just white knuckling it through modern society, and when we get outside the fists unclench and allow some much needed blood flow to our finger tips. It’s relaxing. It’s freeing. It’s necessary.
The timeless aspect that I refer to can be difficult to define, but it goes something like this:
When I am in the woods, away from crowds and other humans, exploring a place I’ve never seen before, I feel like a child again. I don’t know about you, but my memory of my childhood is foggy at best. I don’t know what to attribute it to, but I remember feelings more than actual scenes and details of events. It could be the copious amounts of sugar that I consumed gave me brain fog, but I think I just record and recall experiences differently. It’s part of the reason that I am so obsessed with photographs and video. They allow me to capture the visuals of a moment that I may otherwise lose over time. Don’t get me wrong, I remember almost all of my most embarrassing moments, dating back to when I said the word “sex” at my Grandmother’s house when I was about 4, not understanding what I was talking about, and then feeling SO embarrassed only because of the reaction from all of the adults around me. (Tell me that doesn’t have a lasting impact on my psyche)
Weird how our brains work, isn’t it?
But the feeling that I get when I’m walking through the woods is different. As I step over rocks and branches, look up at the leaves and the sky, I am a child again. These beings surrounding me are 75-200+ years old, depending upon where I am, and their wisdom and calm nature envelopes me. I feel deja vu in the forest and wilderness more than any place I’ve ever been. Sometimes I am reminded of times climbing up dry creek beds in my childhood friend Kelsie’s backyard when I was around 9 years old: slightly scared because I wasn’t a naturally adventurous kid, but also completely consumed by the sights and sounds around me; by the feeling that in that moment, all that existed was me carefully choosing my next step to climb. It’s a feeling that you are not a person traveling through space and time, but a presence that is one with the energy around you. You are a part of this great being that is earth, the solar system, the universe.
To me, it feels like a more subtle version of how I feel when I’ve consumed psilocybin mushrooms. Connectedness is the word that comes to mind. Connected to the world around me, aware of the beautiful gift that this life is, and realization that I am an infinite being having a human experience right now. I come back to the modern world after immersion in the wilderness having gained perspective on what is important to me and the confidence to make those things a priority; confidence to say no to what does not serve me and allow space for what does.
So please, make it a priority to give yourself this experience as often as you can. Don’t lose connection with who you truly are. Society can lead us to create these images of ourselves and who we are supposed to be, how we are supposed to act, what we are supposed to consume, and how we should spend our time. It is okay to walk into the woods as one person and come out as someone else. It is okay to radically change your lifestyle. It is okay to let go of relationships that don’t allow you to grow. It is okay to surprise people. It is okay if your choices disappoint people. We are all so attached to how we think things should be. The truth is, everything is always changing. If we can learn to allow experiences to flow in and learn from them, to hover above our bodies and see a situation from a non-attached standpoint, we’d realize life is not against us. We’d learn to accept things as they occur and that even the most difficult and tragic situations can make way for pure joy. It is all about perspective, and getting outdoors makes all the difference in gaining it.