Eight or so years ago I read the book ‘A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail‘ by Bill Bryson. It recounted his time attempting to through hike the Appalachian Trail. It was laugh out loud funny and offered valuable life lessons. He goes through times of beauty and times of pain on the trail which is so similar to what we experience on our journey through life. I definitely recommend the read!
The alliteration of ‘walk in the woods’ has always stuck with me. It’s a frequent phrase that runs through my head while I’m hiking. I quite literally feel joy when I think about any time I’ve gone for a walk in the woods. I also laugh when I recount Bill Bryson’s experience of his “walk in the woods”.
Nature has always been a safe and inspiring space for me. When I was younger, the back of our house faced a golf course and the front faced a park. From dusk until dawn I’d climb trees, run around in the park, and explore in the woods. With so much to explore in this world, hanging out for too long inside never appealed to me.
As of late, my walks in the woods have expanded in purpose. Nature, which will always bring me joy, has also provided me support through a period of big change. It’s grounded me when my internal world is shakey. It’s gifted me silence to allow me to turn inward, feel big feelings, process grief and reflect deeply. It’s given me space to surrender to all the teachings change and hardship bring. It’s shown me that so much beauty is still and always will be right in front of me, guiding my way.
Some chapters in life are harder than others and not every trail you take will be an easy one. I’ve found change can sometimes sneak up on you and lead you down a path you may not have anticipated. Like me, you may find your walk in the woods led you off trail and you need to course correct. Sometimes on our journeys we endure bad weather, impassible boulder fields, unexpected bears, persistent blisters, and all out exhaustion. Sometimes we may need to pitch a tent, rest, reflect and start again the next day. Someone, unknown to me, said, you didn’t come this far to only come this far. There are a lot of challenges we can face on our journey through life but I know that no matter how uncomfortable, the toughest trails make us the strongest. They are also the ones in which we learn the most.
Recently, on my trail, I’ve been experiencing a season of grief. Grief’s felt like a storm cloud hanging above my head forcing me to walk through the mud. It’s exhausting and feels never ending sometimes but it’s also led me to reflect and understand that without love, there is no grief. With that perspective, how lucky am I to experience such love in my life that I have periods of loss and grief? I choose to wear grief as a badge with gratitude. It represents so much good: love had, memories that will always be, and the lasting impact those cherished have left on my life. With that, it is something that needs to be processed and healed. I believe time in nature, on the trail, and connecting back with the earth can support a person’s evolution and healing. So here I go, heading back into the woods, still climbing, open to making mistakes and learning, embracing growth, embracing change, embracing grief and all the love, beauty and lessons it represents.
I hope you embrace your walk in the woods of life. Each season brings a different view, a different lesson, and unending beauty to encourage you along the way. Trust that each path taken is the one you are meant to be on. Know you don’t have to be alone on this path. Don’t be afraid to ask for support from family, friends or a therapist. The company you keep makes your journey that much more enjoyable!
Remember, the man (or woman) on top of the mountain didn’t fall there (Vince Lombardi). So, keep going, cherish the journey, learn from the challenges you’re bound to experience, and know the view at the top is worth every step and redirection along the way. I’ll see you there!
Until the next tale… Happy trails.
This post is dedicated to my grandpa and to all the seasons in our lives where change and grief are experienced.
3 thoughts on “FINDING HEALING THROUGH (MANY) WALKS IN THE WOODS”
I absolutely love this post! Your vulnerability is beautiful and I’ll always support your journey.
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That’s beautiful Hannah! A very mature way of looking at life and the challenges it can bring. Love you! Dad
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Your strength is admirable, Han. Love you endlessly!
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