Eager and curious, I stepped onto the trailhead.
I put one foot in front of the other, stepping around and climbing over giant rocks and fallen timber. The rigorous pace had my heart pounding.
One mile into the trail, the scenery took a drastic change. I came upon remnants of a wildfire. Devastation. Loss. It was all too obvious. In fact, there was a clearly defining line, a literal spot where the lush green forest met the burnt and sinister glare of nature gone wild. It was as if some intervening force had decided that enough was enough, only to extinguish this blaze with some kind of invisible wall.
The fire would not be allowed to claim anymore than it had already.
As we took a few steps past this ominous line, we could clearly see row after row of charcoaled trees, mixed together with their weather worn counterparts. Many of these trees were silvered and smooth. It was as if ash and rain combined to create a driftwood forest. At the foot of each trunk were sprouts of grasses, huge wild flowers, and patches of what looked like wild strawberry. The greens and yellows and the newly budded foliage gave a deep contrast against the silver struck and rehabilitating trees.
Nature was reclaiming what it had once lost, one blade of grass at a time.
Upon reaching the end of the trail, I took pause to rest and gather my thoughts. As I sat in contemplation of the beauty within the vulnerable forest surrounding me, I could not help but realize that there were moments in my life where I had felt like I was also being burnt to the ground. The fear in those moments left me feeling raw, exposed, and devastated. I could completely relate with the whole of my surroundings.
In retrospect, I could clearly see that the moments that I thought would destroy me did not. Just like this forest, devastation had catalyzed a great expansion within me. As I continue to move forward, I realize that I have both created new space within me and cleared out some old baggage that had taken up residence within my spirit. I have made more room for new and more positive things to take root. Like this forest, I would have overlooked my own happiness, strength, and beauty, if it had not been for the contrast in experience. Without these painful moments of adversity and confusion, and without having been wiped clean of my own hubris, I would be unable to recognize the loveliness within me in full bloom.
As I sat in utter stillness, I wondered if the dance between destruction and rejuvenation were a necessary function for all living beings. I wondered if the act of complete ruin served a purpose in keeping us from outgrowing ourselves.
I suppose it is human nature to hold on to people, places and (certain) situations too tightly. Our personal attachments root deeply. With all living things, there is an intervening force at play. When a person finds that they cannot let go, this force is quick to offer us an easy strike match, helping you to set our lives ablaze.
This force serves to provoke you, like the stoking of the coals within a fire.
The perfection of it all is that this intervening force also shields you. Like the invisible wall within the driftwood forest, this intervening force knows just where your limits lie.
I have come to realize that with every expedition through nature I take, there is also something that overtakes me. It is as if, the energy of Mother Nature will seep into every pore, until you reach a point of epiphany. It seems to be law, that in the forest everything must undergo some kind of growth.
To have this epiphany is life by design—and the feral wilderness does not discriminate.
It is Mother Nature’s goal to return us back to civilization better and more complete than when we left it.
Mother Nature is intuitive; she knows what we are seeking, even before we know we are searching. Some of us come into the woods to find peace, at which point nature teaches us that even silence has a sound. Some of us come seeking to let go, or to engage in the incredible and unruly spectacle of the forest around us. Some of us come looking to be reminded that our problems are small in the grand scheme of things. Most times, I am reminded of all of these things.
On this adventure, however, I earned both an incredible view and a fresh perspective on my own vulnerability.
Author: Magyn Gooch
Photo: Wiki Commons
Editor: Renée Picard