Winters on the East coast have always fascinated me as someone from Washington state, a place of eternal green. The trees lose all their leaves and it seems as if you can see on for forever through their bare branches. So, as I walk through the forest here it feels strange that the only green I see is bits of moss here and there and little bunches of grass that have survived into the winter months. These little splashes of color, along with a few red berries here and there, catch my eye as we walk through the barren trees.
Broken branches and dried leaves crunch beneath my feet but the ground is soft as we walk through muddy areas to reach the river, wet from the recent snow. In fact, it is so soft that I slip twice as we make our way down a steep slope. I find myself covered in mud but not injured so the adventure continues.
The fall ends up being well worth it as we find ourselves in front of a trickling stream that joins with the river. The movement of water forwards creates an enchanting noise. The sounds of it, though it itself is not visible from the river, are still heard clearly. The water of the river flows gently as if it is in no rush to get where it’s going. The water itself appears to be almost a dark green in the fading light.
All of these factors lead me to a peaceful mind (a blessing for someone with both depression and anxiety) and I wonder why I do not venture out into the woods more frequently. I used to give the excuse of allergies, but really I think I am just so preoccupied with the busy world around me that I simply never make the time. I often find myself seeking some sort of relief from my hectic life but never seem to find it. It almost as if I create more stress in my pursuit of calm then I relieve. That’s why the Buddhism practiced in Ladakh really caught my attention. The idea of accepting what is rather than constantly being in pursuit of a fix or something better is the exact opposite of what I am doing. Yet when I follow their guidelines, finding myself in the woods just letting things be how they may, I find my mind at peace with itself. While I am by no means cured, it is nice to get a break from the fast movement of my life and take things slow. I look forward to venturing into the forest again and discovering what other secrets it, and the stories of others, can teach me.