The only true freedom exists in nature. It’s impossible to waste time here…it becomes imaginary when every second is spent doing exactly what I want. Not a single sound touches my ears. This absolute silence is more beautiful than any noise. I feel fulfilled in every sense, simply by viewing the wild forest that surrounds me. Trees overtake me. They tower above me, forcing even the sun to cease from existing, save for the occasional ray that makes its way through the army of green giants. My feet bounce gracefully across the moss carpeted paths that seem to continue indefinitely in all directions.
An occasional branch falls in the distance, as if to remind me of the reality of this experience. The wooded wonderland I tread through is not part of some fantastical dream. This is real, I am here. Lying ahead on the path, a fallen wooden soldier acts as a sort of bridge or roadblock, depending on which direction I decide to turn. A casual slug with an exceptionally neon yellow color glides across the path we share.
People are scarce in this green arena, but the faces I do meet are all overtaken by the same, enormous grin. Each pair of eyes is fully opened, aware of everything, yet thinking about nothing. We seem to silently agree that this is what it means to be human, to feel fully alive.
The air feels misty and cool as it touches my skin. Not a single bird is in sight. If they do inhabit this place, they are likely hundreds of feet above me, feeding their young in nests atop these trees that stand taller than skyscrapers. Aside from the slugs, the only wildlife in sight are squirrels. They chase their comrades about, leaping from one impossibly wide tree to another. A single furry brown trickster sits atop a branch, launching pine cones at seldom passersby.
After walking for quite some time, I reach a small canyon. Ferns flourish here, covering every inch of the sunken landscape. I am immediately reminded of the scenery in Jurassic Park, and find myself imagining what this world might have looked like millions of years ago. Would the trees appear so impossibly large with a Tyrannosaurus Rex standing beside them? Did Pterodactyls glide through the towering troops of trees?
If each ring around the trunk of a tree signals one year of life, these trees have lived for hundreds, some thousands of years. Although they do not have a brain or emotions like me, I ponder what it would be like to stand in one place for centuries. After only a few hours in this magical land, my eyes grow tired from the overwhelming beauty of the forest.
At times, the purpose of life seems to get so convoluted. I get mixed up in the chaos and forget what is of utmost importance. Here, it is clear that I do not exist to be a money making machine. I exist to experience silence. I exist to know what it means to feel so small next to something so large and magnificent. I exist to be here, at this moment, in the Redwoods of California.
About the Author: Cori Van Heukelom enjoys cooking new foods, hiking, playing the piano, and hanging out with her cat, Joon. She is currently finishing her English degree, with the goal of teaching young children in other parts of the world.
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