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I don't go to the forest to be stoic and quiet. I go to let the wild things out. I've learned my body needs to talk itself empty while walking and loves to speak into the cathedral of trees. There is one block of houses I must walk past before I enter the privacy of the wooded trails, and I can barely make it down the street without the muttering beginning. Hardly ten steps forward, and I can feel the subconscious rising to the surface, barking up my throat like dogs leaping against their leash. I often worry about what people think, passing by a woman talking to herself, but I can't stop my body. It has taken a long time for me to give it what it needs, and it is making up for the lost time. The penned-in have their own agenda and care nothing about what anyone thinks, including myself. They tumble out, knowing they finally have space to divide, split, and metamorphose; they are so tired of being netted. I'm so tired. They push me out the door, down the slippery paths deep into the chest of a living sanctuary, to pray and be held against the backdrop of chortling Ravens, lichen, and bluebunch wheatgrass. My body knows how to heal itself and where best to do so.
For most of my childhood, I intuitively moved through the thick currents of overwhelm and confusion, guided by some instinct to sing under my breath. The pressure building inside my little body needed release and found its way out in melody. Hard or unsettling things came into my body and flowed out, lilting and playful. It was my body's way of making things light and less dense. I also had a peculiar need to collect all the house plants and set them in a circle around me from time to time. Surrounded by breathing, green, and quiet life, helped to muffle the noise of humans and made me feel calm and properly oriented inside the sacred circle of whatever nature I could find. Adulthood and city life blunted this instinct, sending me into years of depression and isolation. The singing and talking to the trees came back after I moved into the forest, and finally, I felt whole and connected to the god that, I'm sure, lives deep in my throat and loves hearing itself lyrically gliding through the trees.
"Before a child talks, they sing. Before they write, they draw. As soon as they stand, they dance. Art is fundamental to human expression," Phylicia Rashad beautifully describes our desire to connect with one's soul and how it is present from a very young age. It is how we intuitively know to express and explore our fundamental thoughts and feelings. In circling back to the wisdom of my child self, I finally learned to observe and admire my body's necessity and process again. I am conscious of its needs now and better understand its way. As I move through the carpet of the dense wood, I watch as the concealed worries and fears release from my mouth and land in a long curved line that follows the path I am walking. The pang of intense tumult stretches out its legs to form a complete, organized, and orderly resolution that is calm, reasonable, and rooted. If given space to be accepted, every fear has its own creative nature and rhythm. The antidote to our suffering can often be found on the other side of our listening and available hearts. Not surprisingly, Neuroscientist Indre Viskontas tells us that the same center in the brain connected to our muscles is also connected to the voice box. Like intricately connected gears, we move, are moved, and our voices proclaim it.
"Oh, I'm gone. I love it when I'm gone," a friend said, relieved, after drinking a whole bottle of wine. I laughed, but secretly, I felt sad, not for her, for each of us, as I know the convenience we reach for at the battered end of the day. I know how much we need relief but struggle to find the energy and the will to plunge into ourselves meaningfully.