It has been a while since my walks in the woods revitalize and inspire me. At one time the woods were clearly a place for me to go and rejuvenate. Now, I bring a bag of sadness, always close.
Yesterday, at dusk, that magic moment and as the snow was spitting slightly from the west I walked into it. I couldn’t help myself. I needed to be outside. Very quickly I felt sad and empty. My dad was on my mind, my friend Roland and my friend Greg and Wayne and Brad. They were there but not there.
My two sons have moved to the opposite coast. One is in a band touring the country and based in LA. The other has settled with a family and I am happy for them both. Alternately, deep in my heart there is a loss for these two, who I feel I never had enough time with. Someplace in my mind I had always imagined spending time with them in the woods. Doing things that my dad and I did. It seems to have vanished before it got started.
Growing up, the woods were always a place of immense discovery for me. I couldn’t stay away. I loved hunting and when it wasn’t hunting season, us neighborhood boys would build forts and camps and chop out trails with our coveted axes and saws. Every turn ahead was unknown. What would we see next? A rabbit, an old cellar hole, an old well, an unknown hill with a view to the ocean?
It is so strange, now I feel mostly loneliness when I walk in the woods. The trees and topography haven’t changed and the wildlife, as evidenced by the photos on my game camera is still abundant. I am in the process of training my brain to get beyond this feeling of melancholy but it feels like a heavy rock, to big to move, currently.
Unlike many of my friends I have never suffered from depression, anxiety or PTSD. I have much empathy for those who do and cannot really imagine a life under such duress. In this past year however, I am getting a glimpse into what it is like to feel empty and not full of enthusiasm, courage and a willingness to embrace my uniqueness. Some days I have felt empty, mentally and physically. Not all days though, thank goodness, as some mornings I wake up inspired to tackle my creative interests, especially drawing and painting.
I attribute my current circumstances to having the benefit of age. I am 58 years and am entirely grateful for each new day. They come and go so quickly, I can barely grasp them. As I sit at home at the kitchen table, my makeshift winter studio, I gaze out the picture window into the woods beyond our garden. I see the maze of tree trunks and reaching branches. I look for some relief and imagine walking and the memory of the all familiar embrace of nature, the maternal nurturing that I was once so compelled by and dependent on. I won’t give up, for it is to compelling. But now is right for this shift in my soul. It is undeniable.