Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Walk in the Woods

It's not that often when I get a stretch of time when I have the opportunity to just do whatever it is I want to do.  I'm typically either rushing through my hectic schedule, or filling the gaps between with important tasks... like writing.

Yesterday afternoon, I got the pleasure of taking an hour between the end of my workday and the start of a three-hour training session for Toastmasters.  I first contemplated a nap, but decided that a walk would be nice.  I was right near the Muskegon Community College campus, and decided to talk a walk through the Casey Hartz Natural Area's wooded trail, one of my few refuges during college where I could go for inspiration when I was working on my creative writing projects.

All these years, later, not much had changed.  As I started my trek through the woods, I immediately felt compelled to take photos of this journey.  I have attached a few of them here for an idea of the serenity of the walk.

As I walked these familiar trails, I began to feel at peace with myself again, almost at once.  It was as if a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.  To hear the subtle sounds of the forest - the leaves whispering in the trees, chipmunks scattering away from my quiet footsteps, the calm of the slowly flowing stream - filled my heart with joy.

The further I walked downward from the trail's entrance, the more I connected emotionally.  There were both highs and lows.  Off in the distance to the west, where once there were rolling hills, now I could see road construction.  Otherwise, though, I saw only what nature allowed me to see.  I could see the effects of time on my sacred woods.

Once new wooden walkways and benches were now weathered and sagging in places.  Numerous new carvings from college students in love adorned my favorite place to sit.  At first I was bothered by the graffiti, but I realized that it, too, was a part of nature's influence on the area...  human nature.

It's often so easy to forget that we are still part of the equation of the world we live in.  We try to separate ourselves from this idea, make ourselves seem above it somehow, but in these moments along this trail, I come to realize that I am as much a part of nature as the trees, the animals, or the clouds in the sky.

I saw some wondrous feats of nature while venturing among these woods for some 35 minutes.  I saw several fallen trees that were not there the last time I walked these trails.  The path of the stream even looked to have changed slightly in one area because of a fallen tree trunk.

There was a subtle change to the area.  Someone less observant may not have picked up on these changes, but I was attuned to every minutia of my surroundings.  I might, however, compare the feeling to that of a relative who sees a young child once a year, or even less often.  For the parents of the child, the changes in growth happen so gradually that it is almost too difficult too notice. Yet the distant relative sees great change between visits, change that those of us too close don't often notice until it's too late.

I often marvel at the tenacity of nature to thrive in difficult conditions.  I almost missed this tree on my first walkthrough.  If you look closely at this picture, you can see the tree was bent, or more likely broken, and the main trunk is now resting upon the ground.  However, this tree found a way to survive this trauma, and a strong shoot has sprung out like a branch, and turned into a new tree trunk, growing straight and true once again.

It is these moments where I find my true inspiration for my writing.  Roaming into the (more or less) untamed land around us, I can see objects and events in a different light.  This type of pure inspirational motivation isn't available to me that often, so I cherish each of these moments dearly.

To my fellow writers:  Where do you find your moments of inspiration?  Do you wander away from civilization, or dive into the depths of human interaction?  Let me know!

If you would be interested in seeing all of the photos I took during this excursion, let me know and I'll give you the link.  Have a great week!


  1. Hi Mike. I really enjoyed this post when I read it last week...I'm so sorry that I just didn't take a couple of minutes to write a quick comment right then and there. Your photos are beautiful and I get such a strong feeling of the peaceful atmostphere, and how rejuvenating this walk was for you.

    Like you, I find my greatest moments of inspiration in nature, and in solitude.

    1. Thanks so much for coming back to leave a comment! The whole experience was so rejuvenating for me. I've always had a connection with nature, from the time I was young and took regular walks in the woods behind my house with my dad. Something about being in God's creation just puts me at ease.

      Have a great day!


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