The best part of Into the Forest, for me, was that I remembered. I’ve been having some freak outs lately, dear readers, about my supposed inability to relax. There has been a lot of debate around why it is that I have difficulty relaxing, and what I could do to possibly relax. And the thought that I couldn’t think of anything to do to relax stressed me out more than just about anything else.
But at the end of Into the Forest, I put the book down and just went, oh, duh. I remembered that the one true thing that relaxes me (other than reading good books) is being outside. Being outside, I should specify, and not making lists, or thinking of things I should be doing other than being outside, but just being. Outside. Talking to trees. Talking to the river. Listening to the moon. All that crazy stuff I nattered on about at the end of our vacation last summer. When I am outside, feeling at one with nature as some people would say, it all just melts away completely. I suddenly remember that none of the rest matters. It does not matter if I no longer have a computer. It does not matter if I no longer have a job. Because what matters, what is at the heart of everything, is being alive, and being aware of the fact that there is a whole world of forest and plain and sea out there that will feed us, shelter us, and nourish us, if only we stop killing them.
I constantly get so lost, and it’s hard not to, really. There are so many distractions. It is very easy to forget that your job in the end does not really matter, because if you were concentrating a lot less on your job and a lot more on helping forests to survive you’d probably be a lot healthier, happier, and definitely more relaxed. Until someone came along and tried to steal it from you, which is what will be happening a lot during the transition. But there are television shows to watch, and bills to pay, and phone calls to return, and things to look up on the internet. It’s hard to remember, from day to day, what really matters.
Speaking of television. Part of this whole relaxing conversation has also touched on the concept of boredom, which my sister in arms wrote about very nicely the other day over on clickclackgorilla. She talks about how we went from watching the fire to watching the telly, and the major difference therein: when you watch the fire, your mind truly relaxes. It sorts through all the various thoughts flying through your head, and eventually settles down into this sort of meditative state. When you watch the tv, you aren’t thinking at all. At least, I’m pretty sure most people aren’t. I know my brain kind of shuts off when I watch tv (which is why I kept protesting that watching tv for me was not relaxing, and the people I was having these conversations with seemed rather perplexed). Relaxing, for me, is not turning my brain off. I don’t want to turn my brain off. The opposite, in fact. I just want to let it quiet itself down enough that it can get some rest. And the answer to that is not television, which I find jarring and obnoxious anyway. I don’t see why I should pay to have someone advertise at me.
At any rate, the funny thing about ms. clickclack’s post was that I had been planning on writing this post all along. Only I was going to write about how, rather than watching television, I had finally remembered that the key to relaxation was to watch the leaves. Or the river. Or whatever it may be. A bird flying. A fish swimming. Clouds passing by. I used to sit on our back deck growing up for hours at a time, just staring at the leaves. Listening. Or lying in the sun watching the clouds. And I was a lot damn happier when I was doing that. When I had this realization the other night I decided that the next time I went over the handsome fella’s house I was going to drag him down to the river (only a few blocks from his house) and jump up and down and point and say, “look! I figured it out! I know what the answer is! There it is!” Unfortunately he had a cold so this did not happen.
Now it’s like I need an excuse to go off and sit and stare at the river for hours. If I say to someone, no, I’m not going out tonight, I’m going to go stare at the river for hours, they probably will take this as a lame excuse to get out of hanging out with them. But I’m going to need to start making those excuses, damn it, because I need some time with the trees. Fortunately the handsome fella is obsessed with looking for birds, so it’s not hard to convince him to stand next to the river for hours while I stare at the water and he writes down species in his little notebook.
As ms. clickclack pointed out, this is probably what people used to do all the time (not the writing down bird species part). Watching flickering waves, or leaves, or flames. Fire was an integral part of our lives until a hundred years ago or so. And people were outside all the time until about a hundred years ago. We had things to look at. Contrary to popular belief, most native peoples did not live miserable existences trying to find food. Most of the time they spent about 15 hours a week finding food, and the rest of the time doing whatever. Making rope with their fingers and watching the river, for all we know. Sounds like a damn good plan to me.