I was walking in the woods a few days ago.
Through the trees I heard a rustling and I hoped it was a deer and I picked up a walking stick to touch the ground every few strides as I made my way through thick underbrush following the pellet lined trail.
I felt like I was in Gary Snyder’s poem as I stumbled through low leg branches and found my way to the beginning of the forest.
Forests begin the same way, I think – past the first few outlying trees, there is a barrier of larger growth, like pawns. And you have to remember to zigzag or you’ll just shoot diagonally, further away from where you really want to be. It’s like a foliage undertow. Just as with the ocean, each little bit, you have to work your way back.Just before the large timber, it seems there’s emptiness – as if the ground has to prepare itself for the potential it’s about to will toward the sky. As if there has to be a place where no other thing can stand, like the oncoming shade requires reverence.
When you cross into the forest, you’re aware of your sounds and unsure of your breath. It’s easy to forget who you are in the forest. There comes a point when you have to stop and sit still, absolutely still and know the world that’s moving and working around you.
Few people know this world. Few feel the long patience of the woods.
In this quiet, however, is a world where the future is woven right into the present. Not the future in the way we’ve been thinking of it – as this impending event or moment – the future as the potential inside of us. The future not as a description of happiness to come, but the future as it is now: breathing and being.
Here, under this canopy, the future is a seed on the ground. Not what the seed will become or the circumstances that might hinder it from reaching the sky-catching potential we think it should and must want for – but, how it is now.
If the future can become the present, if we can learn for once to not imagine things that don’t exist, if we can remove ourselves from the worry of a world that hasn’t ever been a reality – the future can be now.
All of the angst that might arise when worrying about the next of things might go away, because the next of things are here. The present is tumbling down and across itself like the silent inner-growth of trunks standing about, allowing the wind to be threaded between them.
And the deer, I don’t remember the deer – I don’t know if there ever really was a deer. I only know that I was lost in the woods.
And because I was lost, I found something.