Several weekends ago I headed into the woods on what was to be the first stop on a local excursion to snap photos for the WPC Local (WordPress Photo Challenge), but I ended up spending hours alone, exploring the trails; immersed in nature; in solitude; in quiet.
There are three marked trails in this forested area and all three cross over and co-mingle with each other in various locations. Some are well groomed while others are more rugged. Some are even unmarked!
As I travailed through the forest all up in my head, I began to contemplate why an outing as this brings me such solace. I know myself well enough to understand that nature is a very healing place for me regardless of the season or the milieu. I am just as much a zen baby in the woods as I am at the beach. I prefer the beach in the off seasons than in summer and in early morning or evening (during the summer) as opposed to during the day. It is impossible for me to truly hear the ocean’s voice when it is drowning in the cacophony of human jabbering.
In the woods, it tends to be quieter no matter what the season. On this particular trek, I barely encountered a soul despite the beautiful day in Fall. What continued to bubble up in my mind was the sense of adventure that the forest gifts us. While many paths were manicured and marked, I tended to be attracted to the more rugged and unmarked trails I discovered. Why is this? Why do I gravitate to the path less traveled? The path unknown? What is it that I am searching for?
I’m not sure I fully understand why the more difficult trail appeals to me, but it probably has something to do with my love of solitude, and maybe even a need to prove to myself that I can navigate successfully on my own. At 54 one would think I should have this ingrained, but I guess I don’t completely, and I’m ok with that. Sometimes I actually do choose an easier route, especially so when visiting the quarry where I rock climb, but I digress.
The other realization and insight I gleaned from this hours long ambling through the wooded wonderland was the multitude of occasions upon which I ended at a crossroads. Which way did I want to go? Which path did I want to take? Which one looked less traveled? But yet, I didn’t want to miss anything hidden within the paths I chose to ignore. Now in this small forest, I can easily revisit and opt to explore the other pathways, even though they wind back around on each other. Not always so in life.
What have I missed by choosing the paths I have walked? Was there a lesson I missed? I don’t have any regrets on where I am in life or of the paths I have taken thus far. I am very grateful for what I have, what I have accomplished thus far, and for where I am headed. I like to believe that if I missed a treasure on a path I chose to ignore that maybe either I didn’t need to discover it or that it will appear on a path yet to be chosen.
So I will continue to find nuggets of inspiration and insight as I traipse through the forest, through life, and dare to go deeper into the woods. For there is where the real treasures are hidden, and maybe that is why I am so drawn to the darker, more rugged path less traveled.