Walking I remember how my therapist always suggested to walk in the woods to clear my mind. Apparently nature can help mitigate my feelings of depression. I go back and forth about believing him. Sometimes it is nice to be in a space where I am free of my obligations, free of the voices in my head. Here I can just listen. While sitting down on a fallen sycamore tree, I listen to the rhythm of my heart beating in my chest as it slows to the pace of my breath. I can hear the wind whistle as it passes through the trees and its leaves. I can hear the birds calls to each other as they bounce off the trees and echo in the air. I hear the grey squirrels scurrying along the ground, hopping over the roots of the trees looking for acorns. The most distinct noise as I sit here is the hairy woodpecker. It attempts to hollow out a part of an oak tree. The banging of its beak reverberates around me. I try to find its red cap, white belly and black and white stripped wings. I have no such luck. Through the reverberations of the woodpecker, I can hear the song of the hooded warbler. I look up trying to located its distinct vibrant yellow colored belly and head with black everywhere else. I thought the yellow might stand out in all the brown of the trees. I have no such luck.
Sometimes being in the woods can be overwhelming like a wave is crashing down on me, and pushing me to the sandy bottom of the ocean. My mind races and thinks of all the sadness in the world. Am I doing enough? As I keep walking, I again come across the huge Tulip tree. I remember this tree. It is large and rich in history. It is here that I feel a wave about to crash. It is here that marks a part of what was the underground railroad. When I learned about the underground railroad it always felt so far away from where I was in elementary school. The 1800s felt like eons ago, but now I see how it only just occurred. I used to think that everyone was equal. Growing up I was hit with the realities of the world. The fight for equality is not over. Systemic racism is embedded into our society and we keep growing around it instead of flushing it out. It is like a tree when it grows around the pollution that we leave. I once saw an image of a bike way up high in the trunk of a tree. The tree consumed the middle of the bike leaving the ends hanging out. The tree thought that it could prosper but the bike only hindered it. Racism is hindering our society from succeeding and we are complacent. As I keep walking I see an eastern box turtle roaming. It moves slowly past me flashing its beautifully electric orangish yellow and brown shell. I watch as it begins to eat some grass. I smile at how calm it is as it lollygags through the woods at its own pace. It has no worry about pollution or racism. It is only present here in the Guilford woods as it eats. I take a breath and let my mind settle before I continue on my way.