I never feel so — I dunno: right with the world, at peace, in my element, etc, pick whatever cliched turn of phrase you like — as when I’m in the middle of a forest. This has everything to do with growing up in homes where you couldn’t see the road from the front lawn, where the next door neighbor’s house was hidden by acres of protected wetlands, where for fun your mother would hand you a pair of waterproof boots and shove you out the back door. Where sometimes you had friends but more often than not you were by yourself (whether because you were actually by yourself or because you just felt by yourself, which, essentially, add up to the same thing).
I remember ice skating on shallow ponds in the woods that made up our backyard, giving names to all my favorite trees and erecting a very solemn shrine for a lost pet. Carving symbols and initials into bark. Coming home covered in burrs.
Things are a little different now. I’ve lived in a small collection of cities over the last ten years. Boston, New York, Edinburgh, Los Angeles. There are forests to be found but they no longer surround me. When I get to one, it’s more purposeful, maybe. I have to work a little harder for it — harder, at least, than walking out my back door.
So here are some photos (the last of the year!) of a forest in Oahu. A short little hike through rainforest and bamboo forest to a waterfall in the middle of nowhere. Lots of ants and mongoose and colorful birds but no large predators (I googled). I’ve always been taught, by various therapists or teachers or people far more emotionally stable than I, to replace images of stress or negativity with images of calm and peace. Real images — things you’ve seen or places you’ve been where you’ve felt totally, completely at ease.
I always imagine greenery. Forests and trees and green as far as the eye can see.
Farewell, 2015. You were a lot of things I didn’t expect and a lot of things I did. Let’s see what comes next.
photographs taken at Manoa Falls in Oahu, Hawaii.