The Dark Lessons of Nature
Filtered light twinkles through a thick dome of green
leaves and swaying branches. Once again I can see the
intricate puzzle of the fallen leaves littering the
ground. "Damn, this ground! It all looks the same. These
old trees know the way and they refuse to divulge their
secrets! I know they laugh at me as I walk in circles! Damn
those trees!" The forest is amazingly beautiful but it's
mocking me this morning. The twilight brought fierce cold
and overwhelming darkness and now the dawn brings color and
makes me incredibly small in such a vast wilderness. I feel
like the proverbial needle in a haystack. But then again
haven't I felt that way for the past year anyway? Lost in a
complexity of emotions and suppression of grief and despair?
I decided after Mom died everyone I knew reminded me way
too much of her. Everyday activities like college, work,
cooking, laundry, etc., almost make me sick to my stomach.
Too many memories in these things to carry on with life as
I knew it before she became sick. I pushed and pulled away,
making a new life, new friends, and even a new family for
myself. I found the most detrimental unstable group of
people I could associate with. I am the opposite of who I
was when she was alive. I find comfort in not having to
surround myself with memories.
Soon, drugs crept into my life like a predator hunting the
weak and the alcohol flowed freely! Loads of alcohol. I
drank myself crazy, angry, and sick! I did not care if I
lived or died. Who did I have to live for besides myself? I
hated myself with a fierce determination but that only made
my new friends adore me with an almost cautious admiration.
I was reckless, fearless, and willing to try anything!
Which lead me to my current predicament. I guess "Stupid"
is really the best name for me now.
I just keep walking straight. Straight, I know, is
deceiving. "How do I know I'm really walking straight?" I
agreed to meet everyone here after work. They had at least
a two hour head start on me. I've never been to this part
of the forest but thought "Hey you only live once!" so I
came here never imagining I would get so lost and
cold. "Straight. Just keep walking straight. You are bound
to run into something eventually."
Just ahead of me I can hear the quiet roar of moving water
and waves lapping at a rocky shore. My pace quickens. The
ground beneath me becomes wet and soft. Porous soil with a
blanket of blue-green crisp moss under my feet and the
smell of fish surrouds me. I find a rushing river with
steam rising from the shallow banks and hope fills my body
giving me a pounding heart and a dizzy head. "I'll follow
the river! People always camp around rivers!" I kneel
before the running stream of water and cup my hands to
drink. My knees sink into the rocky mud. The cold rush of
fresh water shocks my tongue and mouth. I see my mother
downing another plastic cup of foul tasting medicine.
Poison to kill the poison. I see the clear thick substance
dripping down the tubes into her veins and can almost smell
the stint of sickness, death, and antibacterial cleaner. I
spit the water out, spraying it back into the white caps of
My stomach wrenches in pain and burns with the memories
I've suppressed for so long. I heave in nausea but have
been lost and hungry for too long to secrete anything but
bile. I lay beside the bank wih my face in the mud and
close my eyes. The ground feels strong, powerful, and
alive. Like resting on a lover's bare chest, I can hear the
rythm of the earth's heart pounding. My head spins and I
think I can feel the earth rotate. Time becomes a blur of
abstactions and soon darkness incarcerates me. I sleep.
I wake up to little wet kisses and tingling coldness. I
open my eyes to darkness and almost panic until I gain
control of myself and realize it's only raining. In the
distance I see a glowing flickering light and instantly
adrenaline rushes through my veins. I stand up only to slip
in the mud. I'm sliding towards the river! Just when I
prepare to feel the sting of icy water, I gasp at a choking
force. My coat is hung on one of the branches of a small
tree. The leaves tickle my back and a few sharp branches
pierce my skin.
"Now I'm in real trouble! Fucking trees!" I begin to cry
harder than ever before. I weep so hard I almost
hyperventilate. I sob not only for the predicament I am in
but for the loss I suffered and all the tears I refused to
cry before. I could still catch a glimpse of the dancing
shadows from the campfire. I try to scream for help. I am
too winded from crying to make hardly a sound except a
shrill squeak. "I give up!" I whisper, "I give up." I don't
even try to keep my wet muddy shoe from slipping off my
foot. I hear the shoe splash vicariously into the river
below. The river is much closer to me than I imagined.
Serveral hours pass and still my voice can not be heard
over the swollen river.
So many thoughts flashed before me in the darkness of the
forest. I was mad at the tree? Why? This tree saved me from
the river! If I wouln't have been here I never would have
shed a tear for my mother and my screwed up life. I realize
now I want to live and to really live I have to let myself
feel something. After all, death is just a fact of life.
What had I been doing for the past year and a half besides
just wandering around lost and scared, afraid to see the
scars I would never let heal? I wasn't much better off than
I am right now, stuck in this tree afraid to move and
afraid to care. I am almost thankful for the tree and the
revelations I found in myself.
I reach for the branches in the tree only finding twigs and
fragile boughs. Determined not to give up, I lash and kick
until I hit a solid banch, thick as my leg! I grab on to it
with all the energy, love, anger, and hatred I ever felt
for anyone! I lower myself onto the soft unstable mud but
feel stong and solid in my steps. I make my way to the
campsite with a smile on my muddy face. The young campers
think I am insane as I exhaustedly tell them the story of
my perilous jouney with a satisfied, "the cat who swallowed
the mouse" grin.
Perhaps, this experience in some dark strange way, brought
me out of a pit of insanity to a brighter place filled with
life where I could allow myself to feel again. I like to
think of the forest as my teacher those few days. Although
it was filled with perils and fear I found something in
that fear that unleashed everything I held back before.
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