Thursday, January 24, 2013


i always want to believe that in the forest i'll feel some ghostly presence, a haunting, a foreboding, or at least the curiosity of a spirit in proximity to the living.  on the olympic peninsula, i'd assume old ghosts must haunt every tree, the psychic remnants of america's pioneering forebears and of peoples and times completely remote to my memory.

trees grow tall in the olympic national forest.  fir tree minarets inspire vertigo like looking down off a cliff.  deciduous hyphae branch outward under and through the evergreen, leafless but not nude in the winter, the bark of these trees warmed by bryophyte furs.  the thick moss vivid green contrasted with the gray and brown of the forest, the blue-green of the evergreen.  we hiked through ectoplasmic silence, a density that could be determined between footfalls.  the forest was lovely, dark, and deep but there were no ghosts to be found.

i spent the weekend on the puget sound with adam and his friends - we stayed at his friend alisa's parents' beach house.  we woke to gray expanses, gray clouds stretching out over a deeper gray sea to the dark shores on the horizon.  seagulls screamed as they chased one another through the sky, fighting over fish or garbage.  in the beach house, over-warm, we lounged in t-shirts, melted worry with wine.  everyone seemed happy, relaxed.  i slept soundly, deeply, undisturbed by phenomena otherworldly or otherwise, awaking refreshed.  adam, already awake, smiled at me and i whispered, "where's my coffee?"

even if you spend the weekend doing exactly what you always do, it's sometimes good to get away, to escape the ghosts of daily living.  anxiety haunts me.  i anticipate and worry and stress; i relive and review and remember.  i worry that what has come before could just repeat itself now, that everything is cyclical.  and i worry that what i have done could dramatically impact my future.  this may be true, but this constant worry constraints my actions, paralyses, distracts me from the moment, from what's important.  anxiety sometimes prevents me from living fully with the living, with the friends and family with whom i'm surrounded.

to halt the rhythm of the quotidian can break the spell of anxiety.  as i hiked with adam's friends through the forest, we talked and walked and fell silent for intervals.  mid-winter, i did not hear even a bird, even an animal moving through the forest.  we found our way to a little river, magically turquoise beneath the rapids, and as we hiked away from it, up and a hill and over, the noise of the water fell away and i was left with just our quiet hike, the soft shift of fabric and the motion of our bodies.

the forest may look like it should be haunted, but as i hiked, i found a lack of psychic disturbance.  untroubled, in awe of the forest, we were happy with each other.

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