A Walk in the Woods | Teen Ink

A Walk in the Woods

January 22, 2021
By Anonymous

My eyes fluttered open to reveal a tunnel extending infinitely in both directions, the passageways poorly lit under the pale glow of the flickering lights. I started down the narrow space to seek an exit until I got so lost in the overwhelming vastness of the tunnel that I no longer knew where I came from or where I was going. I thought I was alone until I heard what sounded like someone desperately trying to break in. Their pounding fists mingled with my frantic footsteps sent a nauseating lullaby reverberating down the tunnel. Eventually, I stumbled across a door and glanced through the peephole to see a figure approaching, hidden in the shadow of whatever was behind that door. Who could it have been? 

In the past I let this tunnel imprison me; negativity left me short-sighted and close-minded and stress stripped me of control. However, discovering an entrance to the woods bordering my neighborhood offered me an escape. When I walk among the trees and beside the creek, the breeze quiets my mind the same way it would blow out a candle; the noise tapers off until, suddenly, quiet is all that remains. When this happens, I see what I missed when I was not looking and listen to the conversations I did not realize were happening. 

I am guilty of having that wave of irrational fear crash down on me at the sight of a bee. As though bees can smell fear, they buzz around me on my walks, teasing me. They hover above my vulnerable arm for those extra seconds to elicit a reaction from me, to mock the big, bad human who flinches at the sight of a minute flying insect. I could give bees the benefit of the doubt and conclude that they are innocent life forms that loiter around humans ignorant of their irrational fear, but I like to think that bees are wiser than that. Bees are not bothered when people walk by their flowers, as long as they mind their own business. In fact, people have no incentive to bother bees when they are pollinating. Likewise, it is unnecessary for negativity to have a place in my mind; it has no reason to be there. Who am I not to intimidate negativity? Looking for the fun in every experience, no matter how mundane, as bees do, has enabled me to live life as a walk in the woods.

The highlight of my visits to the woods is sitting on a rock by the creek, closing my eyes, and listening. As the water strokes the damp earth nonchalantly, it ripples at different intensities and burbles at various pitches, resulting in a harmony that is music to me and conversation to them. I listen to the water’s story and realize that there is a multitude of stories to hear, as long as I am listening. Compared to the world, I am small, and there is too much to explore and learn to stress over the uncontrollable and listen to the internal noise. There is freedom in being small because it is a reminder that the world is much wider than any tunnel. I can control what I listen to, and when I listen to the right stories, I can write my own and make every word count. 

My walks in the woods had become a habit by the time I recognized the figure who opened the door in the tunnel. Her hair was tangled from the wind, a bee was hovering over her shoulder, and her sneakers were damp, but she was unmistakably me. She opened the door and natural light consumed the tunnel until the pounding subsided. Then, she took my hand, and I walked free, never looking back. With every step I take, the lessons to learn and stories to hear multiply, and I am going to listen to them all. 

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