A friend recently posted a picture/caption on Facebook that said, “It is impossible to be angry in the woods”.
I have a personal bias, in that I’m currently walking the Bruce Trail end-to-end. I’ve spent a lot of time in the woods lately, and I’m as happy personally as any time in memory.
For those who don’t know what “walking the Bruce” entails, it means walking on a trail that runs from near Niagara Falls to Tobermory, Ontario, along the Niagara Escarpment. It is 880 kilometres long, a tiny thread of Niagara Escarpment land visible from space. The Bruce is considered a medium skill trail, more difficult at its ends and in the winter.
Mostly on the Bruce, you are in the woods. Sometimes you are so deep in the woods that you can’t see the horizon. So far I’ve walked about 100 kilometers and have made it to Hamilton.
One of my most significant memories so far was crossing Woolverton Road in Grimsby and ending up on the crest of the Escarpment, an unobstructed view of the Toronto skyline in the distance, and 3 minutes later I was back. . .in the woods.
The one thing I don’t think about in the woods is my job. This surprises me. My job wakes me up at night. It follows me into the shower. It is on my mind while I cook dinner or walk the dog.
Yet deep in the woods I think about other things. . .like how I can avoid tripping and falling off a cliff. . .or whether despite the freezing cold I need to remove one of my scarves because I’m sweating so badly. Mostly I think about the rewards of my persistence. It is an accomplishment to finish something that takes a long time to complete.
Sometimes I have images of Daniel Day Lewis, in full Last of the Mohicans garb, running up a hill a few yards ahead of me, the soundtrack reverberating against the Escarpment walls. Sometimes I think about the scene in Northern Exposure where Dr. Fleischman is fishing on a lake in the woods, enters the fish and comes out in New York City with Rabbi Schulman, experiencing a rebirth of sorts.
Mostly, I let my mind wander to how I can rearrange my life to walk ALL THE TIME.
I’m not having a mid-life crisis.
I’m having a life-changing experience.
I return from every walk with new ideas. Better said, I return with an ability to turn on my mind and contemplate the types of meaningful changes I can make.
What would happen if we all walked in the woods?
Care to join me?