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The cars speed by, the people jog by, the planes fly overhead, but I can barely hear them. I am on a mission as I zone out in a world of music and destination anticipation with my headphones on. Sometimes the world is too busy for me, and I can't keep pace with it; I sometimes feel rushed, and being so, feel regret for the present moment, and my lack of appreciation for it. How can I ever appreciate any given moment when my mind is constantly racing like the cars in the street toward some future contentment? How can I slow down? Where is my pit stop? Where will I find rest?
There is somewhere, in all my past experience, that has brought relief and true presence of mind back into my life, and I am now en route, or on retreat, if you would, to that reliable refuge: the woods. In five minutes I travel away from a world of business, anxious ambition and time constraint, and enter the woods -- the natural world where accomplishment, society and need for purpose cease to nag -- and I no longer worry so much about where I may end up as where I am.
A few days ago I chose a campsite and built a small shelter about a quarter of a mile into the woods, and though previously cozy and snug on my friends' couch, tonight I seek my woodland shelter, if only to confirm in my mind that it exists in the night as well as the day. I want to know that I can find this shelter whenever I need it. I want to pay homage to the great wilderness within me, as I have neglected it for a good part of my life thus far.
I move swiftly through the trails, lighting the way with my iPod screen and invigorated by the guitar and piano that it plays to me, naturally soothing my journey into the night. I reach an open area with tall trees where the trail is harder to discern in the night, but rather than shine my light frantically about, I turn it to the ground and embrace the dark for a moment. In the worldly sense I am lost, but in reality I am more aware and conscious of who and where I am than I have been for a long while.
Gradually my eyes begin to focus with what little moonlight is admitted in the forest, and still not sure where I am in relation to where I am trying to get to, I instead try to see who I am in relation to who I thought I was as a person; in a sense, I believe people know who they are more truly in the dark than in board daylight. I discover that I am frightened, though. I think am afraid to find out who I really am.
I close my eyes and sing. I sing along with the tender sound of a sympathetic musician that I hold in my hand; his music traveling from my hand, to my head, to my voice and then into the wild night. Though a bit scared, I think, "What a gift to be submerged in a woodland such as this. I am not worthy of it;" though, I hope I can learn to appreciate it more as a person while summer progresses.