A part of me always wants to turn back to the most original parts of myself, the parts that existed before I acquired too much information, ideas, ideals, before too many triumphs and hurts. It is the part I’ve felt time and again to be like a primal forest or undiscovered meadow, like looking over a cliff’s edge into depths wrapped in weathered stone. That part of me, natural, original, is always here, an inner wilderness I cherish.
It wouldn’t be right to say there are no paths here. If I follow a river, say an emotion such as anger or pity, relief or delight, it takes me some place. It is fair to say I may have been down the same paths along the same rivers many, many times. And where do these paths take me? Most often, it’s true, to a familiar encampment, a place where the river is more known and serene, quieter, not so unruly, reflecting a cycle of days and months and years — a place that without knowing it I have adopted as my home, a spot I’ve learned to come back to for no special reason.
Occasionally, in my travels I stop, sensing something something unexpected, turn a corner to find a hidden canyon like a secret I’d known all along, an insight. Then for days I’ll explore this shift in territories until it, too, is familiar ground.
The interior wilderness is always waiting for me, a place of exquisite freedom, and beyond all pretense. It is not about some special accomplishment or recognition. I eat when I am hungry, sleep when I am tired. There is everything and nothing to discover. I don’t need to merge with it so much as simply walk the garden. It doesn’t need me to perform, to be other than I am. It doesn’t need my grandest affirmation or personal suffering. It doesn’t have signs saying paradise one way, disaster the other — those are someone else’s roads, not mine. If I must cross them, I find I quickly turn back into the woods to again be welcomed by the light that streams down through the branches from a private, ancient sun.
There is no way to master it. Those thinking they do court an illusion. You can try to clear it but it will return. You can try to plow it under but you can’t get every seed and soon enough that beautiful kingdom of weeds will take over once again. I know its care for me is profound, even as I pull up my collar against the chill air of the changing season and the coming rain.
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