Fighting the Forest

You know that churning unease inside of you that just upsets everything around you? That feeling you get when all is not well, or, in my case this week, when you have so much to think about and so much to do that you are avoiding it but you also feel guilty about avoiding it, but you also have no idea what to do first and before you know it, it is completely overwhelming you and your life and all you want to do is bury yourself in books so you can escape all responsibility?

Yeah, that’s been me this week. And last week. And I’m finally at the point when I really do have to get things done. So this morning I did what I should have done earlier this week: I escaped the house. I went to a local coffee shop, ordered a $7 latte (because that’s what things cost now), and sat with mournful music playing in my ears while staring at my planner, that roiling inside my stomach and chest growing worse and worse as I tried to evade the feeling of being trapped, made worse by the dreary, cold rain outside.

Until, as I started rambling in my journal to try and organize anything inside of me, it came out of my pen. That I needed to find an idyll in the forest. And that’s when I realized. I was trapped inside a forest, and I had no interest in – no thoughts even – of finding any idylls – those moments of hope, of looking up and realizing there is more surrounding me than trees blocking my way. So I set down my pen, and I looked up. I’ll tell you what I saw:

A mother, cooing over her baby. A couple of guys, greeting unexpected friends with smiles of delight. A girl, sitting back and reading a book. Baristas, taking the time to make art with their coffee. A kind woman, scooting over to make room for a couple more people who wanted to sit down in a very crowded coffee shop. And as I watched the life going on around me, the tiny moments that make up the world around us, that show there is more in the everyday than just vitriol on social media, my heart calmed. My stomach calmed. And I was able to breathe again.

Because every little piece of happiness around us is an idyll. It is a moment that reminds us that we are not alone in the forest. And, I also realized, I don’t have to be going through something sad or horrific to be lost in a forest. To be discouraged or in need of hope. It can be simply a time of melancholy, or overwhelm. A time when you are so concentrated on all the trees you have to get through, it feels impossible to see the daylight streaming through.

Not saying I won’t wake up tomorrow with overwhelm threatening to choke me again. But, you know, there is something comforting in acknowledging that even these tiny things can create a forest around me, and it’s okay. Because that’s when I can give myself permission to take the time to look for an idyll.

A Forest Idylls Moment

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