The Forest Climb

I’m on the forest floor, standing in high grass. The tips are yellow with green streaking down the blades. There are trees as far as I can see. I’m surrounded by the breeze. It causes the gentle clatter of leaves above, the warm woosh of the grass below. The air is electric with sound. Woodpeckers with their daily drilling, and songbirds with their songs. The scratching of squirrels against tree bark as they chase one another. Somewhere behind me, I hear the sounds of a roaring river. The cacophony of daily life. It’s beautiful, but at times, overwhelming. I begin to walk, careful not to disturb anything, I’m only a visitor here. Rocks and dirt crunch under my boots as I move forward. After a few minutes, I find the path I want. It inclines upward through the trees. Before continuing on, I look around, dust myself off, and take a deep breath. I’m ready. The climb is gentle, but the terrain is rough. Years of weather and being tread upon have left it so. I’m mindful of where I step. Sometimes I’ll trip, and even fall, but I’ll stand up, brush myself off, take another breath, and continue.

As I move further on the path, my gentle determination is rewarded. The sounds of the animals and life on the forest floor fade. The occasional distraction will visit me, but on my quiet journey, they don’t stay long. They’re beyond my control, and I accept them as part of the path, but I can let them go just the same. For now, I want to feel the breeze on my skin and listen to my footsteps. The path ends in a small clearing, on top of the hill, my hill. It looks out to the horizon. I see the green tree tops, they slope downward to the water. The water sprawls out, touching the sky. The sky stretches upwards towards the heavens. It’s adorned by a few clouds, which are kept moving by the breeze. Golden tendrils of the fading sun reach out from beyond the water’s edge, making my sky pink, purple, orange, and blue.

To my right, a small cluster of rocks allow water from higher hills to pool. I rinse my face and run wet hands through my hair. To my left stands a hallowed tree stump. I sit in front of it, take off my boots, stretch out my legs, and lean back. I take in the view, my view. I can’t control what happens on the forest floor or even what happens in the sky above, but I don’t need to. I’m here now, in my retreat, where my only concerns are watching the sky change color, listening to the leaves dance, and watching the trees sway. These moments are all that matter. They’re my reward for completing today’s journey. Sometimes I’ll get distracted by distant noises or thoughts, but I remind myself they’re not my concern, and they pass. Right now, I’m just enjoying the view and being enveloped in the implacable serenity of the moment.

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