The Stillness of the Forest Brought Clarity to My Soul

THE ONLY CERTAINTY in the world right now is that the future is uncertain. Today is all we have.

It’s up to you to make this period worthwhile — this may mean sticking to a routine to maintain some semblance of normality.

Or, it may mean doing the opposite by embracing this unique season.

The days when we could have taken a chance and left for the beautiful unknown will fade into the past if we don’t take them now.

It’s an opportunity just to go.

This past week my friends and I packed our bags and left for California’s Sierra National Forest. We hiked four miles into the hills with just the necessities on our backs, grateful for the chance to spend time together again.

We arrived at a small and pristine lake deep in the woods, the perfect place to think and reconnect with ourselves and one another.

The silence of the forest and the majesty of the mountains usually remain unheard and unseen.

But they’re alive, persisting and surviving, giving energy to the planet and all who call it home.

As we traversed further from the nearest road, we removed ourselves from the worry, anxiety, and noise of our daily lives.

Being in nature is a powerful reminder that life doesn’t need to be filled with emotions that only harm us.

With each step, we felt our legs burn as they carried us higher into the mountains, instilling in us a childlike joy for being alive.

There’s something taking place far more remarkable than what we’re able to perceive ordinarily.

There’s profound energy in the wild that wants to heal; it wants to bring us peace. We foster that peace within us — yet nature has a way of bringing it out.

The morning air was crisp and pure as we woke with the sun. The sweet coolness of the night lingered and ushered in each new day.

We all took the opportunity to explore and be alone and listen to the layers of sound. These plants and creatures perennially at work enrich the forest.

The moments of solitude made me feel insignificant — perhaps how we should feel more often.

Unable to move, my mind ceased wondering about the past or future, only the present moment. I felt small, yet content as a part of something greater.

This feeling made me question what happiness means in our modern world, and where it truly comes from.

Every human being searches for that thing to make them seem whole: a job, a partner, a perfect body.

These things do make life exciting, as they’re something to strive towards. But they often only make us feel stable until we’re searching for the next thing.

Out there amongst the towering trees and howling coyotes, I felt small.

That felt good.

I’m just another man.

There have been many, and there will be more. But these trees have seen it all — the spirits of these animals are a part of this land.

What usually seems so important lost meaning.

Out there with the soil beneath my feet, my body felt as strong as it ever has.

The sun’s warmth against my skin and the smell of rich pine served as constant nourishment to my spirit.

From morning until night, our bodies were working and resting — moving along rocks and ridges and up and down hills, collecting wood and wading through icy lakes.

This movement causes the body to act in ways that used to be fundamental.

Our small bones and muscles grab and hold on to the earth as one is required to find their balance and focus. The muscles awake, as if from a long sleep.

As we’ve become accustomed to comfort, perhaps we’ve lost that human instinct to pay attention to our surroundings.

Nature isn’t convenient; being human isn’t always comfortable. But being human means adapting and cherishing what we’ve been given.

We listened to our bodies instead of a clock, rising with the sun and sleeping when the stars began to glow.

I’ve never seen the moon so bright and full, or the complexities of the stars draped across the sky, shaping the cosmos and igniting my imagination.

At night, we built roaring fires and listened to the sound of the crackling wood.

 The dancing flames mesmerized us; they seemed spiritual, as if we could look into the swaying element with the same eyes as our ancestors.

When the only thing to do is to be, the value of time disappears into nonexistence.

My mind would waver like the fire before me, searching for answers to the questions in my heart. What’s essential in life became simple.

Times like these are what matter.

Sitting around the fire and looking into my closest friends’ eyes, I felt nothing but love —  love for this experience, for our planet, for my friends.

Each of us is developing our character and becoming a greater version of ourselves. The hours sitting around the campfire were infinitely more impactful than any meeting, deadline, or job interview.

None of us know where our lives will lead, but we do know we will always have each other to lean on along the way.

That love makes life worth it.

We sometimes feel lost because we’re attempting to live up to the standards society sets. We’re running a race we don’t even want to be a part of, to make money and be something.

But what does it mean to be something?

Does it mean landing a high-paying job or becoming a big name in the public eye?

How often do you take the time to be alone without any distractions for at least a whole day to think if these measures of success genuinely matter?

You already are something — a human being like nobody else.

It takes being still in mind and spirit to see this. More importantly, it takes stepping away to feel it. 

I don’t have the answer to what happiness means, and I’m okay with that. There isn’t one answer, as finding your measure of happiness makes this life a journey.

Nature is indispensable, for the earth has a way of bringing peace to our souls if we take the time to appreciate it.

It isn’t easy to get away from it all. However, it seems right now is the perfect time to say fuck it.

Go, and see how nature will change you.

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