A walk in the woods this weekend was nature’s prescription for rest and rejuvenation after an intense work conference in Chicago. In Chicago I was in a gorgeous hotel, spent long hours in various conference rooms, had my head bent over my laptop as I furiously typed away notes and ideas, stayed “on” as I networked my way into the evenings, and found time to sneak in walks in between work engagements. Please don’t think this conference knocked me down (the explanation of this post’s title comes later); if anything, this conference energized me and infused me with enthusiasm about continuing medical education (part of my job).
Today’s walk in the woods was a far cry from the towering skyscrapers and bright lights of the big windy city.
I saw a tiny slug no bigger than my fingernail on a small rock in the middle of the trail. I heard the staccato rat-a-tat-tat of the woodpeckers who were drilling in the tall trees while other birdsong echoed above in the canopy. I heard the deep thrum of the bullfrogs’ calls down in the swampy, soupy waters of the marsh. Dixie, the pony I was leading during therapeutic horse riding lessons, walked at my side, our shoulders rubbing as we kept each other’s pace, and every so often she’d nudge me and ask for a scratch on the head. Frogs leapt into the water as I walked past — coordinated diving with a sound like marbles dropping into the small stream. Brightly-colored insects looked like precious gems flying in the patchy sunlight. Delicate flowers dotted the landscape, buttercups blanketed a field, and the sweet scent of honeysuckle perfumed a fence line.
But most importantly, this: next to the trail was a tree that had been knocked down, its giant roots and the earth that clung to their tangled web wrenched from the earth, a behemoth that had been torn from its place in the world. Of course the earth had started to reclaim it, the tree’s underbelly starting to rot softly and meet the ground below, while patchy moss and lichen made their home on top of the jagged trunk. The most beautiful sight was at the base of the tree, where at its roots another tree was growing. It may sound weird or cheesy to some, and perhaps it is, but seeing a tree sprout and shoot towards the sun after its fall from grace was inspiring.
When life knocks you down, rest, re-root and get grounded, and then get up and grow. The sky’s the limit.
(And surround yourself with horses.)