Let me tell you about this dream I had.
It was dense, this forest I was walking through.
Trees were tall, filled at the tops lush with leaves.
“Why are people afraid of the woods? I find them so peaceful.”
A warning perhaps? Should I have known?
I don’t find the woods peaceful, not now.
I approach a clearing, a sigh of relief.
I know there’s peace in the open space.
I know there’s rest.
Inside the clearing, the sky is a soft blue.
I turn around and the wind coming from the forest has a crispness to it, washing over me and ending with a warmth like on a spring day.
I’m happy here. It’s been a long walk through the trees but I am here.
A ground squirrel charges from the trees and stops at my feet.
It feels the peacefulness, I suppose.
“What are you doing here? You shouldn’t be so exposed.” I say.
The ground squirrel heeds my warning and vanishes as quickly as it appeared.
A mountain lion sits at the tree line. I almost didn’t see him there.
A creature so fierce, so majestic, mighty and deserving of respect.
“Why do you hide and lurk in the shadows? You are faster. You are stronger. You are cunning, brave and dangerous. You choose to hide.”
Of course there is no answer. You disappear into the darkness.
This is why people are afraid of the woods. I don’t find them peaceful. Or perhaps it isn’t the woods at all. Perhaps it is the darkness; the unknown.
What if we fear nothing and everything? I’m getting off course. My heart is pounding.
I am in the clearing, I am safe. I remind myself of this. I am not in danger anymore.
The sky rolls in a carpet of dark clouds. Thunder overhead. I don’t understand.
I was told I was safe. I was told I could be outside the forest and no longer fear.
In the clearing, this is where all is exposed. Light falls upon all that exists.
Nothing can hide. So where did you come from? I see you in the tall grass.
You crawl my way. The thunder overhead. The dark sky. I’m not safe.
Was I ever safe?
The rain is intense. It beats down my back and I am now blind to the danger ahead.
Do I run for the safety of the trees? Do I brave what lies in the grass, unseen?
I was told I was safe. I was told to no longer fear. I was naive.
So I run.
I hear you coming. Chasing, snarling, hunting.
I try to outrun you but I’m not fast enough.
I turn to face you but you vanish. I am blind once again. The rain, a drum, an endless beating.
I can’t take the unknown, I wish for the trees. I drop to the grass and curl into myself.
I understand now, the safety of the forest.
It isn’t safe there, not really. Its a place to hide. To not be exposed. There are dangers there, too. Unseen. Hidden. Unknown.
But what is worse? The fear of the unknown or the fear of being exposed?
We all make that choice, don’t we? Who do we want to be. Where do we want to stand.
I choose the clearing. I face the dangers of being exposed.
I face the dangers of what lurks in the forest, occasionally bringing itself into the light.
Will this danger, what hides in the darkness, allow itself to be known?
Will I be ready or will I run?
I try to wake from the dream. It must have a grip on my consciousness.
I struggle, I run into the woods hoping for an exit.
I jump into cold springs, I tumble down steep hills.
I do not wake.
I am not asleep.
I have bruises and cuts; I am bleeding and sore.
This is real.
I chose this.
I am in my own reality.
This is my clearing.
This is my forest.