My heart sings for small towns not for the crumbling, faded houses or the hollow eyes that inhabit them but for the spaces in between humanity the thick undergrowth of untouched hillsides the silence that surrounds you as you emerge at the street's abrupt end winding roads turning to dust as they weave through valleys and stitch the mountains together no turns in sight as you faithfully follow for miles to a singular destination in the distant country, past oceans made of tall grasses and grazing cattle where the open sky is unhindered by smog and skyscrapers and you can feel yourself shrinking beneath the infinity of distant stars or cradled by the buoyant brushstrokes of soft clouds in an endless canvas of blue swallowed up, dissolved, and made whole again all at once I've always found safety in the subtle symphony of places far away from people the silent prayer of bare feet against the warm earth sunlight filtered through gently rustling leaves the tender cadence of countless other lives swelling and saturating every cell of my being bowing down in reverence to this ancient rhythm Separation from source is the truest form of suffering caged inside the arrogant design of human kind cut off from the wind and light set aside to sit in sterile cells tangled up in selfish isolation eating ourselves alive No, I'd rather wade into the cool embrace the filthy, glistening grandeur of the river memorize the ever changing melody of chirping birds and tiny insects the healing buzz of their constant vibration lapping at the shores of my truest self reminding me of my part in the song
This time apart was meant for me I'm not yet ready to have you There are so many things this solitude is teaching me preparing me for our perfect reunion I can wait I can be patient in this pain for as long as it takes for you to return to me Perhaps this is my punishment for proving I couldn't appreciate you or the way we were back then to be fair, I deserve far worse But if this is all that's left if I linger on in loneliness with only the memories to keep me company That's enough your fading image these pangs of pure feeling are gifts that I will continue to cherish Leftovers, mementos of better times breathe life into me still the ghostly gifts of all that you've given me
I have always lived out in the country. At my childhood home, my parents had four acres of land lined with dense woods. Although most of the woodland area didn’t belong to us, we would always wander down through the trees to the charming stream at the bottom of the steep valley. This was one of my favorite activities when I was growing up. As I got older I would explore further and further down the stream in both directions. I have many stories of adventures in those woods with my friends, my family, my dogs, or even just by myself. I treasure the time I spent there and don’t plan on selling that house or the land even once my parents pass.
Even when I moved out to an apartment while attending college, there were plenty of gorgeous deep woods for us to explore right off campus and right outside our apartment complex. My college was nestled high in the hills of West Virginia, only visible after a long drive on winding back roads. It was almost like a small village hidden in the trees. Even now I only live a short walk from the river and can wander up into the trees right behind my house whenever I want to. I’ve always had the advantage of having nature right in my backyard.
The other day at work, we were talking with a girl who was originally from a big city. She was exasperated by the lack of people and places to go in our area. She even complained that she missed looking outside and seeing houses and buildings. Now when she looked outside she would just see cows. I said it at the time and I’ll say it again, who would rather look at buildings than cows?! Its baffling to me that some people would actually prefer living in a crowded city. To me that has always seemed like a nightmare.
It’s strange to think that most people actually live in cities now. Each year humanity becomes more and more separated from the Earth. I find that terribly sad. To think that some people have lived their whole lives within the confines of New York City for instance. Even Central Park or other state parks in more populated areas don’t do the true majesty of nature justice. While I was in awe at the unique, natural landscapes in Hocking Hills State Park when I was there, it was still somewhat spoiled by the sheer number of other people there, making that serene, calming environment noisy and crowded. There is a special magic that can only be found alone in the silence of nature. It breaks my heart to think that so many people will never experience that. There are even plenty of people that have no desire to.
I believe that humanity has lost something crucial to our survival when we severed our ties with the natural world. For so many centuries we viewed the harsh conditions of the outdoors as our enemy, not realizing that it was also an essential part of us. Not realizing that it has the potential to heal as well as harm us. That we need its nourishing energy to be happy and healthy and fully alive. We have all come from the earth and whether we want to accept it or not, we are still a part of the earth.
I know a lot of people that have hopeful fantasies about humanity living in space or on Mars one day. This has always seemed like an impossible, as well as idiotic plan to me. Humans think space will save us once this planet has been utterly killed. Yet no one seems to realize what life separated from our Earth mother might really be like. I imagine life in space to be absolutely desolate and devoid of all of the things I love about being alive. I truly would not want to live if it meant being apart from the Earth. That would be no life at all to me.
And sadly that life apart is something so many humans already seem to be living, oblivious to the majesty of life that they are missing out on. Even people living in smaller towns with a grassy patch of backyard to themselves, can’t comprehend the meaningful time I have been able to spend in nature all my life. Sitting by a single tree behind a fence as neighbors drive by or mow their lawns cannot compare to being fully immersed in the deep, green forest, or all alone on the bank of a great river. The former is a sad substitute for the latter.
I believe it is because so many of us have spent our lives separated from nature that we have so easily been able to continue destroying every piece of it. So many people see this as necessary development, as “progress.” They don’t realize that what humanity builds, while impressive and amazing at times, can never compare to what nature has already provided for us. When so many people have lived their whole lives away from the natural world, it’s no wonder they are unable to grasp the importance of it.
I don’t know that there is any way to help so much of humanity realize what they have been missing out on. Like many things lately, it seems like a lost cause. However, contemplating all of these other lives I could have led, makes me so grateful for the life I have. It has truly been a blessing to grow up and experience this little sliver of existence the way I have been able to. To be accustomed to only the sounds of bird calls, rustling leaves, and running water outside my windows my entire life. To have spent so many days barefoot, with the warm soil between my toes, walking through the shallow water of a clear stream. Collecting enough wild berries at the edge of my yard with my grandmother and sister to make a pie. Always having plenty of space to garden or simply bask in the sun. To have always had loyal, loving, innocent animals at my side. To be able to gaze at a sky full of stars each night I have been alive. I would not trade this life of mine for anything.
I really enjoy reading yoga books. They are like text meditations. They help me take a step back and see this life from different perspectives. The book I was reading yesterday was reminding me that we are not these isolated thoughts, emotions, experiences, or sensations. We are the spectator, the grand awareness behind it all. We are not separate. We are all one with everything and everyone. We are each just a small expression of that great consciousness, experiencing itself in an infinite number of ways.
It is a beautiful, comforting realization. While I’m a skeptic at heart and I have no way of proving this concept to be true, I choose to believe it. I’ve seen the endless cycles within cycles. I’ve experienced the silent awareness inside of me. I want to love and accept all that there is as myself and learn to behave accordingly.
This book pointed out to me that this life is filled with illusions of separation. And that false sense of separateness is the root of all forms of suffering. Yoga philosophy teaches us how to live our lives from a sense of connections instead. Then we may finally be able to see through the illusion, dissolve our suffering, and find true union.
And yet even knowing these things, the road laid out is daunting and long. It isn’t easy to break free of these chains I’ve been crafting for myself my whole life. Living as one means being feeling vulnerable, opening your arms and your heart to the whole world. It is hard to truly surrender to that higher knowledge, your higher self, and live from that place every day. Fear and doubt are strong, weaving new webs of misconceptions all the time.
While I may not be able to start aligning my actions with my inner beliefs just yet, this deep truth is still a great comfort to me. I am not alone. I don’t have to be afraid to love freely and unabashedly. Everything is going to be okay in the end. In fact there is no end. Everything is already okay. I am merely hear to witness, to learn, to grow, to experience, to enjoy. There is nothing to fear, so smile, live this life in whatever way makes you happiest. Stay open, keep loving, and surrender to all that is before you, surrender to yourself. And while surrender can be scary, there is peace in that surrender. So much peace.