For me, nothing truly compares to the serenity of nature.
I have had an interesting ride thus far. I have done just about every drug in some form in the past except for putting anything in my veins. At one point in my life, I bordered on alcoholism. I do not regret these times; they were the best and worst times of my life and made me who I am today.
I am after all, only human.
My point is I fully understand what it feels like to be high.
I am a strange creature and fully accept this. I am an introvert and extrovert rolled up into one human being. I can be completely sociable and outright solitary. Not everyone is going to understand where I am coming from and that is okay. If anyone takes a single positive thing from what I write, do, or say, then my purpose on this Earth is clear.
Last year, while out in the woods, a dear friend of mine said to me, “Why are you taking that cell phone out? You need to enjoy all of this around us!”
I replied, “No, you do not understand. I have to show people what we are seeing, feeling, experiencing. I have a NEED to tell others. I am fully immersed in this moment.”
He looked at me out of the corner of his eye with recognition, and said, “You are a documenter!”
Yes, I am.
I do not plan my times in nature; rather, nature tells me when to go. Often, I am driving and just turn off the road and decide, Hey, right now; I need to go do this.
Today, I went where people rarely travel where there is wildlife and woods, trails and trees, water and brush. I went before it became humid and everyone was out and about enjoying their weekend. I prefer to be alone or with someone close to my soul. I go "elsewhere" in nature.
While walking along one trail, mesmerized within and with the trees, looking up at their lumbering arms reaching above, out and down to me; I wished to reach my own arms up to meet theirs in some sort of holy supplication. Some sort of forgiveness and gratefulness for the damage humankind has dealt.
Trees are bridges to other worlds. Their exhalation is our breath and vice versa. Their arms reach up towards the sky, the Upper World, their roots below to the Underworld, and their physical bodies; trunks, exist on our plane, the Middle World.
Just then, a person rode by on a bike and I did not hear them coming. It is not that I am not aware of my surroundings, quite the opposite, yet in these instances, I am accessing someplace else.
When they rode up, I stopped, stared, and gave them that Robert De Niro look wondering what they could possibly want from me. All they ended up saying was, Excuse me, sorry. Then they rode off.
I smiled at them and just kept walking.
When in nature, I step between and within two worlds. I fully see this physical world, where people are playing golf, are with their families on swing-sets, walking dogs, riding bikes, yet that world becomes wispy, like fog. A veil lifts that I wholeheartedly step into, quite easily and without effort.
This is the realm of nature. Where the wind whips my hair all around me and her breath pushes towards me, and I am reborn, cleansed, grounded.
I take photos as I go, snapping views that to me are not typical. Peering through leaves at bridges, spotting a critter hopping along a branch, the way the sun dapples my hand immersed in water. I crouch in leaves and dirt and get down low to rocks and water. I close my eyes and feel the Earth beneath my feet. I place my hands and feet in the water to feel the energy of this universe.
Nothing exists around me but this, these moments, that energy; although I am fully aware of my other surroundings, they are secondary to these moments.
I take videos of what I see to come back and show others - hoping that someone experiences what I do and feels the energy of the moment. I record audio of what I hear, the birds, ducks, critters, and things I have yet to discover. I record the water speaking, babbling, bringing me a sense of belonging. My ultimate goal is that others explore the momentous, hallowed ground that surrounds us daily.
I do belong in both worlds. Completely to one.
Today I came upon a grove of trees of varied species, enormous, beauteous, wondrous.
Before I approach a tree, I place my palm gently upon the mid-trunk similar to consoling or greeting a person, gentle, with compassion, not abrupt or intrusive. I leave my palm there feeling if this tree welcomes me. I use my intuition.
[If you have never done this before, please do. Who cares if people stare at you, they stare at me too. We are, after all, a strange species and that is okay.]
I listen with my heart, close my eyes and crouch down close to the tree where it meets the ground, like prayer, in reverence. I take a photo of the view from the ground and if that is the tree for me, I proceed.
I found two trees that welcomed my presence. The first, a big ole Ash and after placing my palm upon the bark, I rested my spine right up against the tree and closed my eyes. My upper body started shaking, feeling that immense energy. It was subtle, the shaking, one cannot see by looking but inside of my body, yes. More importantly, that shaking felt like fear.
That emotion and feeling went all the way up and down my spine and settled in my mid-back, yet did not frighten me. Whether it was my fear, or belonged to the tree, I am not sure. I turned to face the tree and instead of attempting to gain energy, I gave.
I placed both my arms around the trunk as far as I could reach and the love I felt was intense.
This felt like one of those hugs you receive from someone that holds you so dear and you mean the world to them. This is what I was doing with and for the tree and it, back to me. Perhaps the tree was ill or plain tired. Maybe I was too. All I am sure of is that we both needed love.
The second tree was a Sycamore, pictured above. The crux of the tree branches into two massive trees and the stark white branches screech to the heavens above. This tree fully gave to me.
I walked around the tree repeatedly seeking the best angle for a photo. I could not resist resting my palms on the bark. There are places on this tree molded for the human body, little indents that fit your shoulder, your hip, and your head.
Around and around I go with this tree and I care less and less about everything "out there."
Before the trees, there was this little path worn a bit by the edge of the main trail. I went down there and found a cool breeze blowing by the banks of the creek. There was a massive concrete slab from industry long past. I sat upon that slab and peered down.
What I saw was the reflection of the tree leaves and the sky in the water and I smiled. I laid my back flat against the cool concrete, stretched my legs out and felt my spine instantly relax into what would normally be something undesirable - concrete, hard, cold, and dirty.
I never care if my clothes, shoes, or I get dirty because I enjoy that. My white socks now stained with mud, my shorts full of grass and leaves, the backs of my calves splotched with mud and clay from splashing through creeks.
Lying on that slab though, the breeze blew my hair all around, the birds were singing, ducks flying overhead, a woodpecker far off, and even though others were walking on the main trail, not one person saw me there meditating on that concrete slab. I did not wish to be bothered and I was not.
On my way out, another person tried to talk to me. They said, "Hello!" and I smiled.
They asked me what I was doing. I said, "Taking photos."
They replied, "Of what?
I replied, bewildered, "Of nature . . . "
I kept walking wondering if I am the only person who sees two worlds and not just one this day.
Sometimes when I leave nature, I want to hold onto that energy, that bliss and know I cannot. I go to nature to heal, to ground, to have my own questions answered, to seek peace. Today was different.
Walking out on the old dirt path, I felt grateful and lucky to be alive and awake. My limbs work, even if sometimes I experience pain and although everyone I came across today was not where I was, I was tired in a healthy fashion, in a healing way. I walked out of there knowing everything was simply okay.
I did feel a bit sad watching others sitting in their vehicles talking on cell phones on such a beautiful day and crossing the street with grimaces on their faces while holding babies. Some people were yelling at their children in the park. I wished that just a small spark would light up for everyone and that they too, would begin to see what I did and do.
I got to my Jeep, started her up, looked around me once and gave thanks to all that is. I allowed the breeze to wash over me once again, so sweet, so cleansing.
My goodness, I thought, smiling, this is divinity.
This is my high.