escape to the forest

Posted by on Jan 7, 2016 in Blog | 5 Comments

there i was, in the forest. i had to get away. i was at the writer’s camp, at Esalen. i had been soaking up and running away from all the egos and advice and comparison of writing from one person to the next. the hot tubs had done their thing with me. i needed a different reprieve.

i ran down the hill, over the wooden cross bridge, and turned left. i was leaving the tubs, the people, the dining hall, and the sea.

20 yards in front of me was an old, iron gate. it had an ornate look, with scallops on it. this was the gate to forest.  i went through, and immediately felt relief on the other side.

now i enter a world where beasts do not compare. computers aren’t. birds sing. tall trees tower above me. the ground is wet, brown, earthen-smelling. my feet caress it, gladly. even through my rubber-soled flip-flops, i can feel the nurturing of mother earth.

i feel her steady certainty.

there are things i need to get out. i don’t know what they are, yet.

first of all, let me walk a little further. i need to get away from the entrance, because the other world is still too close for comfort. i must get lost.

i do.

i look above me. green trees with their slender boughs droop down. i cross the crude footbridge, to the other side of the river. it is a river that beckons and repels with giant boulders along the sides, and a few in the middle. fallen trees grace it, hitch-hatched. pools of water stare, alternatingly clean and full of muck.

i must get my feet wet; i must be taken by nature. i want to not be anita, anymore. i want to lose my human-ness, even. i want the thinking part of my brain to disappear. i want to be struck. with awe.

i want to just stop. the feeling of being chased, or not getting enough. it must go. the feeling of wanting to feed the right spots, so that i will no longer feel lacking.

i always feel lacking.

in the modern-day world.

i walk in the water. the rocks are harder than i thought they would be. one pokes my right foot sole. jagged ’n small. i didn’t ask. it just did that. i stepped on it. i quickly step aside. okay. caution. i will watch more, now. look where i step.

a respect builds within me. i am not in anita territory, anymore. this is the territory of the trees. they’ve stood here for years. on end. guarding things that don’t care to be guarded. the rocks. birds. trees. none of them are asking for the shade of the trees. although the birds are better for it. what i am saying is, there is no arranging of roles, here.

things just be.

i am weary of arranging the roles in my life. the first one is with myself. i am always trying to eat less. this is difficult, coming from a very hungry girl.

when i was in the meeting (the cult i was raised in), as a little girl, hunger was a thing that crept up on me during the “breaking of bread” meeting on sunday’s at 11 AM. meeting would get over at 12. usually it dragged on until 12:15, and in the worst case, 12:20 or 12:25. we had already sat through sunday school. it seemed that the longer i was in the meeting, the longer “breaking of bread” got. men would stand up and give out one more hymn. a brother would stand up to deliver one more exhortation. sometimes there would be silence for ten minutes. that is what we were there for. to wait on the lord.

i couldn’t wait to leave. i would race out (well, i had to walk), and find hannah. she was my best friend. if it was a good day, she was coming over to my house afterwards, or i was going to her’s. otherwise, i would just go home, with the rest of my family. this was less exciting, but there was still some hope— if it was a good ride home, we would stop at “donut world.”

i could never decide between maple, glazed, or an apple fritter. we did not get our own. we would share.

eventually, we got our own. much later.

eventually, i left the meeting. my whole family did, when i was fifteen. it was a horrendous event for us, and at the same time, the beginning of the darkness going away. it was horrendous, because we left the ones who knew us best. i left hannah. she didn’t come after me, and i wanted her to. instead, she fell in love with timothy blake, a meeting boy, and she married him at age 17. i hated her for it.

i had lost my way. i was out of the meeting. i was without a best friend or a love interest or a sense of love for myself. i knew only that i must please god. i knew he should be my everything. but it was confusing. he was such a stern god, wanting everyone who didn’t love him to go to hell. i loved him, but only because i had to. i had to, because if i didn’t, i would go to hell. AND, i had to, because he sacrificed his only son for me, and if i wasn’t grateful for that—who was i? i couldn’t face that—i couldn’t face being ungrateful. i wanted to be beautiful and win. it seemed that the only way to do this, was to be on god’s side.

yep. that was a huge chunk of my life.

back to the trees.

the forest right-sizes my hunger. it helps with everything. even memories. i am not interested in those right now. i am interested in getting off the path, so i am even more animal— even more embraced with the stream of life.

i want to be like the waterfall; without a point.

get away from my thinking brain.

but, somehow, i think. i think about lunch. and how i wished i ate less for breakfast. and how i hope i can eat more for dinner. the loveliness of the wilderness is lost on me, because my brain is too torn. if only i could shake off the human condition and…die.

part of me actually wants to die, because the totality of feeling/being human is too isolating to bear—especially amidst this beauty, which can’t feel anything. i can witness beauty. but i can’t enter into it. i am too crazed, beat-up, and worried about little (human) things.

the solution is either,

1) become a tree. and don’t think


2) leave. it all.

1) is impossible, and 2) is not quite right. over-kill, perhaps?

so here i am, staying.

i yell at the forrest,

“i didn’t ask to be born!!!”

i notice it doesn’t seem to care. i yell some more,”i never asked to be bornnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!”

again, silence. the silence of un-thinking trees.

i am here.

eventually, it strikes me that that this is kind of a silly complaint.

i am here; maybe i can be here differently. hurt less.

maybe i change my approach.

i recall the fern at the entrance of the forest. i had noticed it on the way in—silent, unfurling. some of it’s branches were broad and straight. others were curled up like little worms. all it was doing was unfurling, being broad, and not thinking or feeling or complaining, at all. it seemed to be working for the fern.

i decide i will think less about my life. the thoughts and the feelings that bubble up, i will take them less personally.

i know the forest would help me with this endeavor.

every time i show up.

and in-between.


  1. Kyle
    January 11, 2016

    That was beautiful. I want to leave it all behind and go to that forest and be with the trees and walk in the river on the rocks.

    • dranita
      January 27, 2016

      hey sweetie, thank you for that.
      yes, we will.

  2. Courtney
    April 12, 2016

    So powerful. I get it, thoroughly. We should hang out again soon, lady.

  3. Bos Taurus Todd
    December 4, 2017

    “It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.”
    Robert Louis Stevenson

    Such a beautifully conveyed feeling, nice to have met you.

    • dranita
      December 4, 2017

      exactly! lovely quote. and those puffy rolls, by the way, were the bomb!!


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