The Pathless Woods
| August 16, 2016 |
Today, my Traditional Medicinals echinacea + elderberry tea is quoting Lord Byron to say, There is pleasure in the pathless woods.
I can’t help but agree. The woods and Mother Nature carry so much power that one does not need a specific destination, or even marked path, to feel pleasure when journeying through the wilderness. I admit that I used to be overly concerned about the destination. I needed a list of places to go, and I would need to cross them ALL off in order to feel successful. With my current mindset in Washington, however, I am letting the destinations come to me and finding pleasure in the path itself. I truly feel I am enjoying the journey, and reveling in the fact that I don’t always need to know where I’m going or work toward a definitive end goal. After all, it’s not the end point that brings knowledge or joy. In fact, sometimes what we arrive at is disappointing (i.e. slimy hot springs), or (even worse!) we may not REACH the predetermined destination.
Is this all we are meant to do? Travel toward our endpoint? Keep checking our maps and compasses to make sure we’re heading in the “right direction”? Or, are we meant to meander through life as we would deep in the forest? Are we instead meant to travel freely, roam the planet, and absorb all the knowledge it has to offer us? If we are constantly chasing our destination, perhaps we will get more lost. Perhaps we will be too focused on when we are arriving to realize we’ve always been there. The entire journey has actually been the destination.
When I read more of Lord Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilbrimage, a deeper meaning was truly revealed…
Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.
Quoted from Canto Four, starting at line 1594
It feels to me like Lord Byron is preaching to the immense, undeniable power of nature. We cannot control nature, nor should we. The emotions nature bring to the surface of our souls are not easily expressed, but we cannot hide its affect on us. When we walk into nature, we also walk into ourselves. We reveal some truths–both beautiful and ugly–in our souls. Sometimes, we may discover our problems or our struggles by traveling into nature. We may remember something or someone that hurt us, and we will need to
When we surrender ourselves to the ocean, the woods, the sky, and all of Gaia, we are free. We are unknown in this world because we do not have power over the forces of nature. We are not significant, despite needing to feel significant, and feel we have a path neatly outlined for us. Maybe we don’t have a clear path. The Universe reveals many indescribable phenomena and beautiful, breathtaking landscapes. In Lord Byron’s poem (in earlier stanzas), he appreciates the beauty of manmade art, but holds nature in higher regard. There is something deeply enchanting about the untouched purity of nature; something we cannot entirely explain as humans.
I enjoy the pathless woods. I enjoy being free to decide which path I will choose, even if it may stray me from my “destination.” I am not afraid to change course. I am not afraid to venture into nature, the unknown, and the beauty of the Universe. I am not afraid to feel all that arises within me, even if it is painful.
I will continue boldly on my pathless journey. I will allow all to unfold around me, and breathe in the subtleties of all nature has to offer.