This is a quick personal narrative about why I love walking in the forest. Memories, imagination, creativity.
I walk for many reasons. Obviously, I need to get from place to place. Sometimes I need a workout, so I walk fast or listen to music that will make me walk even faster. Other times, I walk create time to listen to audio books while getting a little exercise. These are all great reasons to walk, but the real reason I have been such walker is because of memory, nostaglia, imagination and the slowing of time.
When I was a child, my father took me on long walks. We walked to the park at the corner, down trails across forest and field, mostly in silence. My father loves to talk at parties but not when he walking on the trail. On the trail, he spent his time noticing things and taught me to do the same.
Wherever we wandered, he taught me the names of trees and grasses, flowers and ferns. I learned to identify bird calls and cries of animals. As I grew up, and we walked through the seasons, I learned the recognize and feel the rhythms and cadence of the natural world. The crunch of leaves in fall a percussive section, the rustle of the wind in the trees the most beautiful whispering song I have ever heard. Indeed it is my father’s favourite sound. It is mine as well.
While awkward and often unhappy in society, my father was at peace on the trail. He relaxed and explained to me how science, faith and storytelling combine perfectly and effortlessly in nature. This is not a romantic notion, it is a practical one. To thrive in the forest, you have to understand it, study it and respect its mysteries. You discover the society of animals, when they wake up in the spring. You feel the divine in the circle of life, when you see a tree that feel decay over several years and new life spring from it – insects and chipmunks make it their home, flowers spring from notches and bees pollinate the flowers. My father awakened a love of nature in me through these walks. He has had a couple of strokes and heart attack, but he inquires about my forest walks every time I see him – his soul lives in the woods.
Some of my best conversations and deepest friendships have developed over long walks at different times in my life. Sometimes animated conversation celebrating excitedly, other times, quiet sorrowful ones where footsteps mirror our heavy hearts. Together, though, these walks are the mile posts of my relationships – the most memorable times, when we focused on each other, because there was no spectacle, no noise to distract us from the mystery of why wanted to spend together. Because in every friendship there is a mystery – it is what fuels your desire to see each other again. Each time turns a new page.
So you see, walking for me is not just exercise or a good time to fill. It’s the scaffold of my life house, of my memories and my mind. When I walk, I relive moments I have spent with others when we were alone together.
It’s a beautiful feeling to walk and hear and listen and listen and smell and sometimes even taste a wild berry along the way.
I wish you a beautiful next walk.